Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mama and Papa, with pictures!

Their first full day of China (last Sunday), Alison, M&P (Mama and Papa), and I essentially followed the guide established in a recent NYT article about "must-do" activities in 37 Asian Cities. After registering with the police (because we are law-abiding residents), we started off the day by going to the PanJiaYuan Market, where we both bought table patterns of the same pattern but different colors. Here's ours:We then headed over to historic Beijing to the Drum and Bell Towers. The NYT did not mention anything about eating, so we went by M&P's rules: if you don't have a place in mind, find a busy place without any foreigners. We ended up at a Shanghai-style restuarant, that was yummy but not delicious, particularly compared to everything else we've been eating. Nevertheless, we still managed to put together a feast:
Believe it or not, Papa is actually having a great time (side note, whenever I try to take pictures of them smiling or laughing, I seem to get the tail end or beginning of their "happy" face, with often hilarious results. To be nice, I won't post many of them.) We then went to the Drum and Bell Towers:Can you see they brought the Phoenix weather to Beijing? We walked around for a little bit before taking a historic hutong tour via PediCab. Alison and I were really excited because we had heard great things about it but never done it.We learned that in Imperial China, you could tell that the status of a family by the number of beams protruding from their doorway (12 = Emperor, 4 = aristocrat, 2 = less rich but maybe powerful, 0 = everyone else). They also had various marble carvings etched into the lions near the doorway so you could also tell what career the head of the household had.

The tour was initially fantastic but then at the end got sketchy when they took us into someone's home that had seats for us with merchandise for us to buy. So we left quickly but were still happy:For dinner, we headed to our favorite resturant, Da Dong Duck. Alison got so excited on the bridge, because the air was so clear that you could actually see that Beijing is ringed by mountains! In the picture below, I was supposed to block the sun so we could see the mountains.
I failed, and the halo I have makes me look like Billabong Jesus.

As always, the food at Da Dong was amazing: Papa and Mama chose all non-duck entrees, which we had never had before (and were delicious).
(Here Papa is, ordering.) Normally, someone comes to our table and teaches you how to fold the little tortilla into a very cute bite-sized rectangle. However, no one came to teach us, and before we could explain, Mama made a burrito out of the duck and accompanying spices:Nothing like bringing a little bit of the Southwest to Beijing!

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