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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jay and Staci come to Shanghai (Part 2) The Shopping Day

The next morning Jay and I needed to get some work done so we turned on "Mama Mia" the movie musical for Staci to watch while we worked.  If you've never seen this, you should be happy, if you have seen this, I'm sorry.  We all love Abba, but that was terrible, the movie went for star power over quality of voice.  Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnon cannot sing, at all.  We did all burst into song every time one of the songs came on, so that was entertaining.  Imagine us all sitting in the living room on the couch and then bursting into song while Jay and I are on our computers. Magical.


We headed out to lunch after everything was squared away.  I took Jay and Staci to my favorite burger place, Gourmet Cafe.  I can't help myself it's just so good, and Staci loves burgers so it seemed like the right thing to do.  We had waffle fries with bacon bits and jalapenos on them, yummy!  Staci ordered the cutest little slider burgers, we each had one and split a regular burger, it was like eating 3/4 of a burger, it was perfect.  I could eat there all the time, it's so good.


After stuffing our faces, it was time to wander and shop!!!!  We headed to the "Old Town" area of Shanghai, which is really like China Town in China.  It's full of every novelty item and Chinese knick-knack you could ever want.  I bought a beautiful jewelry box after haggling with a lady on the street.  I'm very pleased with my purchase, it's lovely.  We wandered around the small crowded streets and bought a pack of uno cards, because really what else would you buy in China other than a Spanish named card game?


So Old Town Shanghai is known as YuYuan (you can read about it by clicking on the name).  The architecture is beautiful and there's a lake in the middle everything and a nice square where most people congregate.  Now there's a Starbucks in the middle :P  And the Expo mascot.  Don't worry, Staci and I had our picture taken with the Mascot, I know you were hoping that would happen.  After striking a pose in front of the statue a bunch of other Chinese ladies did the same thing, they apparently thought Staci and I were geniuses, which we are.

After the wander about we decided it was time to go somewhere a little less touristy.  We hailed a cab and headed over to Taikang Lu which is a back ally labyrinth of sorts in the French Concession.  The area use to be a small factory but after it closed it was turned into many many many tiny shops, cafes and restaurants.  I love the area because I feel like every time I go there I find something new.  We stopped at Kommune, an Australian Cafe, for coffee before starting to look around.  I had a BOWL of Mocha, it was delicious, one of the best mochas I've ever had.  I can't wait to go back and have more.


We did some wandering in the back alleys and touched pretty much everything we could.  I even found a pair of gold boots!  I totally wanted to get them, but I refrained, because I don't need gold boots, when I already own a pair in storage.  It was about time for dinner and it was starting to rain so we again hailed a cab and headed off to a restaurant Staci had been told about called "South Beauty."

The entrance to the place was amazing.  It was kind of like walking a plank, it was a narrow walk way with a small fish pond on either side and there was a sliding door on the other end that was a mirror, so while you're walking this plank all you can see is yourself.  It was weird, but awesome.  We ordered yummy pork ribs, shrimp salad, fried eggplant, and minced meat lettuce wraps.  I tried to burn my hand off on the sauce for the eggplant sauce, don't worry I still have a hand, and it wasn't as bad as I had whined about at the dinner table.  Thank goodness.  Sadly Bob couldn't join us for dinner because he had a dinner meeting.


After dinner we walked down the block to O'Malley's Irish Pub to wait for Bob.  He was able to join us shortly after we got there and thus began the Uno game that would never end.  We seriously played Uno for 4 hours, it was ridiculous!  The game would not end and at the end Staci and I started to team up just so the game would end and we could go home and go to bed.  It was actually really nice sitting out on the patio in the run under a nice big umbrella.


We made it home at around 1:30am, we were all beat, and poor Bob had to get up super early the next morning for more work.

More to come!!!

Loves and kisses,


Jay and Staci Come To China! (Part 1)

Hoorays! Jay and Staci arrived in Shanghai!!!!  They got in really late on Sunday the 10th, and they brought me red vines, because they're the best!  I had their room all ready for them, and everything in the house was picked up, well except for my bedroom because that's where I stashed everything I hadn't been able to put away before they arrived.  I think we're all guilty of doing such things when guests are on their way.   Anyway, Bob and I got them all situated and tucked in for the night so they could get a good rest and be ready to party with me the next day.  (Unfortunately Bob wasn't really able to party with us because there was a big meeting at Shanda that he had to go to.)


On Monday we got up at a reasonable time, and I took Jay and Staci for Yang's Fried Dumplings!  I feel like this is a staple on the tour of Shanghai now, everyone who comes to visit me must go to Yang's Fried Dumplings because they are just so delicious.  We hopped in a cab, and went to the location that Eric took me to originally because I think it's the best.  It has enough room for you to sit down and isn't super crowded.  We picked up some drinks at Family Mart next door and then ordered 4 dumplings each and we all got a soup.  Really the soup is just a little extra, and you might as well have it because how can you beat yummy soup for the equivalent of 1USD?  You can't.  Staci and I each had the hot and sour soup which was delicious and had peanuts floating in it.  It was good, but we probably should have just shared one because the portions were huge, and really we were there for the dumplings.  I was able to order all our food in Chinese.....while pointing at the menu that was in english :)   Jay and Staci agreed that those were some absolutely delish dumplings.  I feel like frying them adds and extra umph to the whole thing.  And they're soup dumplings which is even more awesome.

On a side note, I've perfected my soup dumpling eating.  I pick up the dumpling with my chopsticks and stick it on my little soup spoon and then i nibble a small corner off the dumpling.  I wait for a minute while I blow on the dumpling to cool it down and then I suck all the soup out!  That way when I bite into it all the soup doesn't explode all over the front of me.  And there's usually some soup left in the dumpling so it's a win-win situation.  I believe my t-shirts are secretly happy that I discovered this method, as they are no longer getting stained with dumpling grease.

After lunch we walked around the neighborhood and through a park.  I hadn't been to the

MeandStaciatCoffee.jpgpark before so it was nice to know there was one pretty close by.  We decided it would be good to head over the Bund so that we could walk along the river and find a place to get coffee.  We walked along the Nanjing East Walking street and stopped at a mall with a nice coffee place.  I had a really yummy green tea frappacino thing.  It was the really rich matcha green tea which I think is great because it's actually kind of bitter, but still sweet at the same time. The menus at the coffee shop were great because they had pictures of all the drinks, and the drinks actually came out looking like the pictures.  We all thought it was funny that you could order a glass boot of coffee.  Sadly none of us tried it.

After coffee we finished the walk down to the river.  The day was overcast so it wasn't as nice as usual but there where still a lot of people out and about on the boardwalk.  We wanted to jump into photos of big tour groups but managed to control ourselves.  Instead we took our own photos and walked all the way to the end of the riverside walkway.  After our afternoon walk we headed home so I could get some work done and we'd be ready for when Bob got home.


We lounged about and I got some work done and when Bob came home we (including Eric) headed out to the BullDog Pub in the French Concession.  Bob and I had scoped the place out the week before for the Pub Quiz, because Jay is a ringer for Pub Quiz and we wanted to be able to show him off.  Every Monday night the BullDog has a pub quiz, and two for one meals for dinner which is pretty awesome.  Jay had shepard's pie, and Staci, Bob and Eric had fish and chips, and I had a blue cheese burger.  The food is only okay, but it's pub food and sometimes all you want is a greasy meal and a couple of beers.  We ended up coming in 5th place out of 8 teams that night, but it's league play so we were prepared to come back and fight for a higher rank.

We were going to go for massages after the pub quiz, but I thought because Bob had to be up so early in the morning that it would be better for us to go home and go to bed, it was midnight after all.  And I figured Jay and Staci were beat after a long day of walking around.  We headed home, and I can't speak for everyone else but I was unconscious almost instantly.  Stay tuned for the next day of fun and excitement!

I stole all these photos from Staci!  You can look at her flickr account here:

Loves and kisses,


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Shanghai Party Animals

We've been doing a lot of work and play because 1- We have Jay and Staci coming to visit!  and 2- It's the Chinese National Holiday.  I've been cleaning up the house and catching up on laundry in preparation for our house guests, I'm super excited.  And I've also been extra busy with work because our game approver has the week off which means that her job is now my job for the time being.  I'm becoming less tolerant of game approvals due to the connectivity issue here.  Usually I don't have a problem handling the support emails I get, but loading games takes forever!  It's another job in itself.

It also seems like time has been going fasting since we got back from Beijing.  We relaxed for a little bit but the last few days have made it feel like we've been partying like rockstars, and we've been having a food adventure.

We checked out a new place called Mai Thai in the French Concession, it was only okay, but there were a bunch of places near by that I'd like to go back to.  We walked around and just kind of had a nice afternoon.  We headed home, worked for a bit and then went out to Mesa Manifesto for a really nice dinner.  We finished the evening off right with a really nice massage and headed home full, relaxed and exhausted from our "rough" day of living.


I made reservations for us that weekend to check out a bunch place called Yi Cafe.  The restaurant is in the Shangri-la Hotel in PuDong, so we had a little morning adventure getting there.  Everywhere was packed because of the big holiday here.  People were all over the place, it was madness, absolute madness!  The brunch was really yummy though, and had soooo many choices.  There was Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, European and American and the dessert and fruit bar were amazing.  Lots and lots of choices and of course we tried them all.  We were so full, as usual after lunch and we were lazy and took a cab back home.  I know, so far it doesn't sound like we've been party animals.  We headed over to a Belgian Bar called Kaibar later that evening just for a nice relaxing drink and to hang out for a bit.


The next day we headed over to the shopping area I really like in the city.  I like the area because it's a bunch of little back alleys all connected in a labyrinth sort of way, and there aren't any cars.  We went to an Australian place called Kommune and had their wonderful breakfast.  They have bowls of coffee!  I didn't have a bowl of coffee but I did enjoy one of the best mochas I've ever had.  We both had yummy eggs, and then of course out did ourselves and ordered a plate of cake.  Yes, a plate.  there were fours slices of different kinds of cake.  There was a really really good chocolate cake with coconut on top.  Mmmmm, after brunch we walked around for a bit and I bought a market cart.  Yes, I have an old woman cart so I can go to the grocery store just like all the little Chinese ladies here.

To be perfectly honest I don't even remember what we did for dinner that night, it was pretty laid back though, obviously.  The next day we decided to check out a grocery store I had read about called City Shop.  I had read that they had an excellent selection of groceries, but was disappointed when we got there.  The place was in a basement and it wasn't very well lit.  It was just blah, I won't be going back.  We did have a delicious lunch at my favorite burger place....Gourmet Cafe!!!  Wonderful as usual.


Then we headed home because Bob had a lot of work to do.  We worked for the afternoon and then I ordered in Hunan for dinner.  I love spicy green beans, and dumplings, I could eat them every day.  We caught up on fun tv and I watched one of the worst movies ever.  I made Bob buy me the DVD of "Nine" the musical off the street, here in Shanghai.  I now know why it got panned so badly at the theatre.  It was seriously terrible, I do not recommend it, even if you like the music because the music is not what you will be familiar with.  It was just bad and long and ridiculous.  Oh well.

Now this is when things pick up.  We met up with Patrick and Sean for dinner at a place called Xingu 131.  Yes, the number is part of the name, apparently that's the address for where the original restaurant was.  It was a spicy Szechuan place and it was wonderful.  We even ordered a bullfrog dish that was pretty good.  I know, ew bullfrog.  It's not too bad, but it's such a pain to eat, so many little bones.


After dinner we went to PartyWorld!  It's a karaoke place, and we got our own room.  It was Bob and Me, Patrick and his girlfriend Yoko, Sean and a couple of his friends and then later in the evening Yoko's friend Key showed up.  I love karaoking in our own private room, it's so much more fun to get to sing as many songs as you want, and the selection was pretty good.  Bob even sang a few songs.  Around 12:30 some of Sean's other friends showed up to play and things just started to get too crowded and rowdy for us.  Plus we stank of smoke.  That is one thing I definitely appreciate about places in the states banning smoking, my clothes love it too.

Anyway, Patrick had told us that he and Yoko were going to go out of town the next day to check out a near by water town.  What is a water town you ask?  It's kind of like a mini Chinese Venice.  We stayed at a hostel in the town and it had a really nice community area that we were hanging out in for most of the night.  We had a delicious dinner at one of the restaurants over looking the river and then took a boat ride around the area.  We had a wonderful time and were up so late just having fun.  The next day we did some shopping around the area and had wontons for breakast, and sweet tofu drink.  Mmmm, sweet tofu.  And we pet kitties!  The hostel had 3 pretty orange cats, and one of them loved Bob and me.


I'm going to write a separate post on the Water Town.

After we got home around 5:30pm we reorganized ourselves and prepared to go out to a concert.  Bob had read that a rap band called PuppetMastaz, from Germany, were going to be in town at a local venue.  The band is pretty cool, they actually use puppets to perform, it was a great show, and the place was packed.....with a bunch of foreigners.  :)  I recommend going to see this band if you ever have a chance, the songs are catchy and the show is really fun.

The rest of our weekend was pretty low key.  We did a lot of sleeping in, cleaning, and grocery shopping in preparation for our house guests.  They arrive later tonight!  Hoorays!

We're going to be in Shanghai for the first couple of days they're here, and then we're going to head down to Beijing because Bob has a conference and we want to take Jay and Staci to the Great Wall and a couple of other places.

I'll keep you posted on our fun.

Loves and kisses,






Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Back in Shanghai - Hooray for home!

We spent Monday being lazy and doing laundry.  I feel like I write a lot about us being lazy, but after living out of a suitcase for 2 weeks I was ready to lounge about on the couch.  We had lunch at Gourmet Cafe, yum, with the delicious burgers and had our first hospital experience (not because of the burgers).  I was actually quite please with the clinic we went to.  The doctor was super nice, and my international insurance worked out great.  My doctor even wrote me a personal email to follow up with me!  Amazing!


On Tuesday I met up with Glen and Maggie (from our Beijing adventure) to play tour guide for the day.  The weather was total crap so we didn't go to the Expo like Glen wanted.  (I'm sorry Glen.)  We did go to the bottle cap building, to be honest I'm not sure what the real name of the building is, but it's the really tall building in Shanghai that was designed by the Japanese and originally had a giant circle cut out of the top, but the Chinese thought that looked too Japanese (which it did) and made them change it to a square.  It looks like a giant bottle opener, and you can stand on an over look that looks straight down from the 100th floor and it supposedly has a beautiful view of Pudong.  Because of the weather there wasn't much to see, so Maggie and I had donuts while Glen went up to the top.


After the bottle opener building we went to the Science and Technology Museum.  I hadn't been yet, and I am now pleased to say that I thought it was pretty nice.  There's a lot more in there than I had expected.  We only visited two sections of the building so I'll have to go back and see more, but what we did see was fun.  We wandered around the fake animal habitat and learned about animals, bugs, fish and bacteria.  (Yes a slightly weird combo.)  And then we went to the Robots section!  We got to see some dancing robots, and I say that using the word "dancing" very loosely.  There was also an archery range to show how robots can work together, the example was that one robot could hold the bow while the other would pull the arrow and they could always hit the bullseye.  People could line up and try their best at the archery area and both Maggie and Glen gave it their best shots.


After the Science and Technology museum Glen, Maggie and I headed back towards The Bund so they could see the lights come up across the river.  The boardwalk was packed!  That's what we get for going during a Chinese holiday.  We met up with Bob and Eric at New Heights, a restaurant with an awesome view, and had drinks while all the lights came on across the river.  I plan on taking everyone who comes to visit to that restaurant because it really is an amazing view.


And then for the best part, we took Maggie and Glen to HaiDiLao!  Mmmmm, best hot pot ever!  They had had some hot pot when they first arrived in China but didn't really know what it was so hadn't enjoyed it, we fixed that with a trip to the best hot top place ever.  We ordered so much food but it was delicious and Maggie was able to take home an apron from the restaurant along with a little bag of lavender.  After dinner we went to the hostess bar by our house called "The Flying Dragon" and played liar's dice and cheat until a little after midnight, when I made the call that the evening was over.  What can I say, I'm like an old woman, I love going to bed early.  We sent Maggie and Glen back to their hotel and wished them luck with the rest of their journey through China.

I'm going to have to go back to the bottle opener building when the weather is better.

Loves and kisses,

Margaret and Bob

Beijing - Our Last Two Days

We spent the next morning bumming around and being lazy and decided that we'd go back to Tim's BBQ that night for more live music.  We did try a dumpling place for lunch that was really good.  We ordered too much food on accident, but managed to control ourselves and not over eat until we were sick, which is hard to do sometimes.  We were the only white folk in the place, so it was quite an experience.  Bob will tell you I don't like going places where I can't either point at a picture to order or read the menu.  I fell safer being able to do one of those two things.  Yes, I'm a whiner, but when it comes to food I like to know what I'm getting otherwise it can be so disappointing.  The dumplings were yummy, and we had a variety of them along with eggdrop soup.


We worked for most of the afternoon and then headed over to Tim's BBQ for some appetizers (yummy cream cheese stuffed jalapenos and 7 layer dip).  We played some games, and listened to the live music for a while.  Sadly my tummy started acting up again so we cut our night short and caught a rickshaw outside the restaurant.  For those of you concerned about my tummy, it's okay, I went to the doctor and I'm all better now.  But for the rest of that night we ended up tucked in bed watching tv.


In the morning we packed up our things, and had breakfast at the hotel again.  We did some work and then checked out of the hotel and left our bags with them while we did one last wander about the shopping street.  We got a little green tea ice cream treat and then caught a cab to the airport......

Where I was again stopped by security.  Not because of my belt, I was smart and mailed that to myself.  First, I was stupid and had left a water bottle in my bag, I admit that was my fault.  But then they wanted to open my other bag because apparently they were afraid of my power adapter for my laptop, as well as my digital camera.  They took my passport and boarding card and for all I know I've been flagged for flying in China.  Anyway, they gave it back and spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the "Jackie Chan Cafe" at the airport where there were glamour shots of the actor all over the wall.

And that, in a nutshell, was our trip to Tokyo and Beijing!


Loves and kisses,

Margaret and Bob

Beijing - Kung Fu, The Sacred Way and The Great Wall of China

The next day we bummed around the city and did some looking about.  It was a pretty easy going day, and we got some work done as well.  We bought tickets for the evening to see "The Legend of Kung Fu" which turned out to be a lot fun.  I think I would have changed the the title to something more like "A Kung Fu Story" or something along those lines because it wasn't really about where Kung Fu came from.  It was a story about a boy who becomes a Kung Fu Warrior, and his journey to get there.  It was like a Kung Fu ballet, lots of choreographed dancing/fighting.  It was definitely worth going to see, and the show was impressive.

We did have an interesting time getting to the theater for "Kung Fu" because our taxi driver apparently didn't know where it was.  We stopped twice so that the taxi driver could ask other people how to get to the theater.  That was weird, but entertaining, and we did eventually get there so no worries.

After the show we walked back to the hotel which took a while because Beijing is so spread out.  It was 11pm by the time we got back and I was needing a snack, so we had nachos in the hotel restaurant and played games on the ipad.




The next morning we woke up early and had breakfast at the hotel which was a large array of various international dishes.  We had Chinese, Japanese, American and European.  The hotel had a beautiful atrium in it so breakfast was very nice.  We tried not to fill up too much because we were going on the tour of "The Sacred Way" and "The Great Wall!"  We booked a day tour with and started the morning off with "The Sacred Way" which is really just a very long road that leads up to the Ming Tombs.  It's very pretty, and park-like and the road is lined with statues of different animals and warriors paying homage to the emperors who would pass through the Sacred Way.

We only experienced a small section of the Sacred Way, which was okay with me because I was really only there for the Great Wall.  I would recommend checking the area out if you ever have a chance and you want a nice peaceful walk.  It was beautiful.


I hadn't realized it, but part of the tour was a Chinese Medicine museum/hospital thing.  We got a tour of the little museum and then were encouraged to get a consultation from the doctors to hear about Chinese herbs and healings.  The doctor I saw told me I have a chronic immune issue and that Bob should stop drinking.  Then the doctor tried to prescribe me 2,000RMB worth of prescriptions to help my chronic problem.  All the guy did was take my pulse and look at my tongue.  We declined the medication.

During the Chinese Medicine adventure we made friends with a couple of Brits named Glen and ......Margaret!  (She goes by Maggie.)  We were all laughing about what the doctors had told us.

After the Medicine experience we went to a Jade Factory, I had no idea it was part of the tour and to be honest I don't care about Jade in the least.  So Bob, Glen, Maggie and I wandered about the Jade Factory for a bit and then the tour was herded to the tamest lunch I've had in China so far.  It was like eating Chinese food in the states.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't really Chinese either.


Finally, after lunch we went to The Great Wall!!!!!  We went to the Mutianyu section, which is one of the best preserved sections, and also one of the steepest and because of that is less touristy.  There are three different options for climbing the wall from this section:

1- A small hike up to a lower part of the wall that's a bit easier to manage.

2- A longer hike to a middle section of the wall that has a loge (yes a loge) you can slide down!

3- A cable car route that takes you to a higher, steeper part of the wall, and you can go to the highest point of the wall in about 45 minutes to an hour.


We only had 2 hours at the wall before we had to be back at the tour bus, we chose the cable car route and went as far as we could until we needed head back.  The cable car drops you off at Tower 12 and the highest point is at tower 23.  Bob, Glen and Maggie made it to Tower 21, and I made it to Tower 19.  I didn't go further because I wasn't feeling very well by that time in the day, and I knew we'd be back in Beijing in October and at the Great Wall again.







The views were absolutely beautiful and we took lots of pictures.  We made it back down off the wall with 10 minutes to spare, and I stopped to haggle for a folding hat for our friend Amanda (at Mochi).  (Yes Amanda, I found your folding hat.)  Bob was quite proud of my haggling skills.  The woman asked for 25rmb, and I said, "10rmb" and she said, "20" and I said, "10" and she said, "15" and I said "no," and started to walk away.  Then she called after me and sold it to me for 10rmb, and gave me the stink eye.  I was very pleased, and Glen and Maggie seemed impressed as well.


We all piled back into the bus and headed back to Beijing.  It took about 2 hours to get back.  After we arrived in the city we showed Glen and Maggie around the area of the city we had been staying in.  Glen had mentioned he wanted to try starfish on a stick because he'd read about it in a book, and Bob and I knew  there was an alley near our hotel that had lots of things on sticks.  Shrimp, beetles, cockroaches, scorpions, starfish, seahorse, and centipedes.  So we went over to the alley and we all tried starfish.  It was very good, so we went for a bubble tea afterward.  We said good night to Glen and Maggie (Who came to visit in Shanghai the next week!)  and headed back to the hotel.  We were really tired after our day of fun and excitement, and my tummy still hurt.






Sunday, October 3, 2010

Beijing - Macro Joy Working Day, The Forbidden City and Texas BBQ

At the MacroJoy office i got to see all the people in the office working on new Flash Games.  It was really neat!  Michael gave us a tour and we met some of the artists for the games and the programmers.  I got to see the portfolio of one of the girls working on a new Commando game, and she was really talented.  She was working on the splash screen artwork and it was very detailed.

We spent the day working and then headed back towards our hotel around 5pm because we had dinner plans with a friend of Bob and Jameson's in the city near our hotel.  We went to a really snazzy place called The Jockey Club, and per usual had our own room.  The table was huge!  It was big enough for 12 people and had a giant lazy susan in the middle of the table, which I love by the way.  I hope to one day have a giant round table in my house with a lazy susan and then have dinner parties and potlucks all the time.  They will be costume parties, obviously.  The food was good, and we had Peking Duck which is like mini fajitas.  You get a little bit of duck, and it's kind of crispy and juicy at the same time, and you little eggrole-like wraps that you put the duck in and you add some ginger and cucumber and a little chili sauce and it's delicious.  I hadn't realized how yummy duck could be, but I'm definitely becoming a fan.  Dinner went pretty late and afterwards we just headed back to the hotel, and prepped for the next day of fun and excitement.

The next day, Wednesday, we met up with Jameson at the mall near our hotel and grabbed a quick bite to eat before heading towards the Forbidden City.  There were soooooo many people outside the gates but the lines kept moving so it wasn't too bad and we got in rather quickly.  I had my picture taken with the large portrait of Mao which is hanging on the outer wall of the city and looks across to Tiananmen Square where he's buried.  We all picked up audio tours, and wandered through the grounds of the Forbidden City.  The place is gigantic!  All the buildings have different "totem" animals on top to signify it's importance and also keep the occupants inside safe.  The more totems the more important the building.  We also all rubbed the giant metal/goldish orbs on the the big red doors as we entered the city for good luck.  (That's what you're suppose to do, and all the orbs are starting to fade because of all the people touching them.)



The whole tour experience took about 2 hours, and was a nice and easy walk as most things are flat.  There are stairs here and there, but really it's pretty easy and leisurely.  Just outside the other side of the city, when we had finished the tour, were all these carts selling what looked like giant granola-like fruitcake.  You'd just go over and they'd cut off a slab for you.  We didn't try it, but I was intrigued.   As we walked along the river we saw a couple having their wedding photos taken in traditional garb.  We walked Jameson to the subway station and then decided we'd go have dinner at a place a read about on the plane.


We went in search of Tim's Texas BBQ.  I had read in the newspaper on the plane from Tokyo to Beijing about Tim's BBQ and it had great reviews on the place.  It turned out that Tim's was further away than we had expected so we did some serious walking.  We got there just as it was getting dark, and sat out on the patio and ordered the brisket and margaritas.  I've come to the conclusion that my dad would do great opening a brisket place in Beijing because Tim's was okay, but more sweet and vinegary than I would have preferred and dryer than I would have liked.  My dad could open "Al's Brisket and Beans," and I bet it would be hoppin'.












Tim's was nice though, it was nice to sit out on the patio and enjoy a couple of drinks.  The place is definitely decked out Texas style and they sell cowboy boots that they have hanging from the ceiling.  AND we were extra surprised when there was live music!  We ended up staying until around midnight because it was so much fun.

Beijing!!!! Arrival and First Day

Okay, so we had just finished where I had been asked by security in the Tokyo airport if I had a gun in my bag.  I told them no, because I didn't and that they were welcome to look through my bag.  I couldn't think of anything I had that was at all gun-like.  When security finally found my revolver belt buckle everyone backed away because apparently revolvers come that small and bejeweled.  I laughed and started putting it back in my bag when I was told I would not be able to take the belt on the plane because "it looks like a gun."  I argued, had my passport taken away from me and all my information was recorded and then Bob and I were escorted back out through security to "check" my bag.  I threw a fit.  It was completely ridiculous.  They wanted me to check my laptop bag which had, my laptop, the ipad and my digital camera in it along with all the cords and other things I carry about.  Then they suggested that they could just check the belt by itself.  I told them absolutely no way because that's how stuff gets lost.  They finally found a box to put the belt in so it could be checked.  Needless to say I was livid.  Would they have taken away my earrings if they had looked like guns?  What if I was wearing a shirt with a gun on it?


So after the ordeal at the airport we made it to Beijing, at around 10:30pm.  we picked up our checked luggage and headed out to find a taxi.  I had to yell at a Chinese lady who tried to cut in front of us in the taxi line.  We finally got in a cab and were heading out of the airport when we made it to the toll area, and for some reason all the booths were backed up with at least ten cars, and no one was moving.  Cab drivers were getting out of their cars and taking smoke breaks and no one seemed at all fazed by the lack of movement.  About 20 minutes later everyone got back in their cars and we were on our way.

The airport is about a 45 minute taxi ride away from where we were staying in Beijing.  We stayed at the Sunworld Dynasy Hotel, because I had found a deal online and because it was fairly centrally located to things I wanted to see.  The hotel was only two blocks East of the Forbidden City, we could see the rooftops of the buildings and wall around the city from the hotel window.  The hotel was also on a major walking street for shopping which was nice because our first full day there it rained and we needed buy Bob a jacket.

Okay, so we got in late Sunday night.  The next day, Monday, Bob and I wandered around for a little bit and had lunch at a mall food court, because he had a meeting later and we didn't want to venture too far away from the hotel.  It was pretty good, we ate at a noodle place, and I only got a little great on the front of my shirt.  We stopped at Hugo Boss and bought Bob a sexy new jacket, he looks super awesome in it.  Around 3pm Bob left for a meeting way out on the North West corner of the city.  The plan was for him to meet up with Jameson and then they had meetings with a company called MacroJoy, and then I would meet up with them at 7pm and we'd go to dinner.

Because of the rain everything was really crazy.  I got a text from Bob at 4pm telling me that I would need to be in a taxi and on my way to meet them at 5:30pm in order to make it by 7pm.  Traffic was sooooo terrible.  It seriously took an hour and a half to go 20 kilometers.  Crazy! 

IMG_0461.JPG And the first couple of taxis who stopped to pick me up refused to take me where I wanted to go because it was too far away.  I don't blame them, it was ridiculous.  Anyway, after wondering if I'd ever get there I made it and we all (Bob, Jameson, Michael who is the founder of MacroJoy, and his wife Emily) went to dinner at a really cool restaurant.

The restaurant was the emperor's son's Summer home long ago and has since been renovated into a large restaurant made up of different little buildings with water features all around and beautiful lanterns and outdoor tables.  All the wait staff wear the traditional garments and shoes, and every table is assigned a guide to get in and out of the restaurant so guests don't get lost amongst all the greenery.

We had our own private little room and had some of the best food I've had in China so far.


We ate some delicious duck that tasted like honey ham, and had deer that was really tender.  There was a salad made out of rose petals and other various flowers with a vinegar dressing on it that was actually quite good.  And of course as usual we had water melon juice.  Mmmmmm, water melon juice.  We ate so much food but it was all so good that we didn't mind feeling so full.

By the time we got back to the hotel after dinner it was pretty late so we called it a night and tucked ourselves into bed.  We had to get up early (not that early) the next morning because we were going to the MacroJoy office to work for the day.





As you can see the rooms were amazing, and we had gorgeous dish sets that we ate off of.