March 13, 2007

Beijing Drum Tower and Food...
I left for Beijing a little later than I wanted to on Saturday, but I had to take the only (standing room) ticket available before 3PM. I made my way to the Drum and Bell Towers north of the Forbidden City and walked up the Drum Tower for a view of the surrounding hutongs and the nearby Bell Tower on the beautiful but bitterly cold afternoon. There was an underwhelming one minute long drum performance, which wasn't nearly as good as the performances at the drum and bell towers in Xi'an.
I settled into the "Excuse Cafe", a tiny place between the two towers, for coffee and a glance at a copy of McLean's left by a lady from PEI. It's been a long time since I've seen a McLean's and they had an interesting article called "How to lose your shirt in China" about how Canadians are too trusting and honest and how they constantly get ripped off when doing business in China. There was an interesting mention of how a word for honest (老实, lao3shi) is also a derogatory slang word for gullible or naive.
I met up with Sarah, who used to be a teacher in town here, and her boyfriend and we headed to Lush in WuDaoKou. They had some amazing food, stuff I haven't had since I left home, and it looks like they've got some good breakfast too. We were soon met by some other teachers from here and there, as is the case in WuDaoKou. It's a totally different world from where I'm living.
The next day we headed out for a walk through ZhongGuanCun (中关村), an area of Beijing where there are a lot of universities and high-tech developments. In the process of looking for a cafe we ran into Carrefour and picked up some pain au chocolat! We had lunch at a sushi place where you could grab the ones you wanted off a moving conveyor belt loaded with all sorts of sushi, drinks, wasabi and pickled ginger. I love sushi, and it was hard not to eat one of everything. It was great to get away for a bit, visit some old friends and meet some new ones who work in town here, and to have some amazing food. Not only was it nice to go to Beijing, but when I got back I found out that the power and water had been out at the school for the better part of the day! Needless to say it was a much needed and appreciated weekend getaway.

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