Monday, December 03, 2007

On China Time

Lately, with the winter in Hanoi, the pollution in Vietnam has finally gotten to me and is causing a slight tickle in the throat and a cough.

Recently I headed to Beijing, China. The last time I was there, summer of 2006, I didn't notice any pollution. Maybe I was just busy checking out the scenery and thought that the grey skies were normal. I've finally figured out that when the sky is that grey and there is no chance of precipitation, something is wrong.

One of the new things to do is to go around town checking out the progress of buildings, some constructed to coincide with the Beijing 2008 games, some just a reflection of the continued economic boom.

I think this one is supposed to be the next CCTV tower. I'm not too sure. Looks interesting, like some uncompleted Tetris pieces. (speaking of media in China, it seems all blogspot sites are blocked, and news sites, such as or, are really, really slow to load, to the point of being unusable. And there is a great fascination with parading foreigners on CCTV, or KBS for that matter, who can speak Chinese. I don't get it - it would be interesting if it's 1907, but c'mon, so what if there is some white guy or some black guy who can recite nursery rhymes? The writer strike is still on in Hollywood - quick, get some Asian people on TV to read Shakespeare. But I digress.)

So going somewhere new means trying new food. The above is some calf marrow. It was part of a hot pot meal.

This is some braised goose heads. Surprisingly tasty.

Went out on my birthday for some scorpions. They're on the left, along with some stinky tofu, chicken hearts and white chicken meat. No, the scorpions didn't taste like chicken. Just a bit crunchy, not bad.

Before dinner, the hotel brought by some birthday cake gratis. Finally, a benefit from handing over your passport at hotels in foreign countries.

This is the way up to the hotel room. No 13th floor for the Westerners, no 4th and 14th floor for the Easterners (or at least the ones that share some Chinese cultural traditions).

Oh, I also went shopping - at the knockoff places and at Sogo, 'cause I heard a lot about it. People were lining up 15, 20 minutes before the place opened. I got there early 'cause I was uninformed about the store hours. And no, this wasn't some Black Friday deal. Weird, 'cause it's only a (nice) department store.

That's pretty much Beijing, in a 48 hr nutshell.


Anonymous said...

Why do people always want to try the weird foods? Eating scorpions, Civet cats, cats, and dogs? What is the fascination about that? If less and less people would do that, the practice of eating dogs and cats will die out, and less chance of catching diseases from wild animals or insects.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, people should stop eating all those weird things - like animals with three stomaches and eight nipples.

What's with this fascination? We'll have a lesser chance of catching these weird diseases like, you know, mad cow.