Beijing is proving to be a great city, each day is an adventure.
When we arrived it was hot and humid. Now, it is Autumn so it is breezy and comfortable temperatures. On Monday, September 12th we celebrated the Mid-Autumn break by eating moon cakes as part of the celebration of Mid Autumn Festival and the full moon. They have red bean paste, Durian fruit(very pungent) or egg duck filling wrapped in a pastry. The Chinese traditionally celebrate by giving elaborate moon cakes as gifts to family and friends.
For the holiday, we also enjoyed visiting the Dongyue Temple which is 400 years old. It is a sanctuary in amongst the high rise buildings of this huge city. We did not realize it was there until a week ago and it is 4 blocks from our apartment.
798 District is totally cool.
We had a great time walking around the 798 area and checking out great art one Saturday in August. With every corner we turned there was something else cool to check out.
Yes, we made it into a local Chinese School, called Fang Cao Di International School.
It has over 700 students with 20% foreign students from all over the world, which is great. This school focuses on Math and English as a second language.
All their lessons are in Chinese which is a big challenge, but with the help from the homeroom teacher and with a tutor after school 3-4 days a week, we can help them succeed. Max has already made a great friend who is in his homeroom class who is Australian and his name is Max, too. Sepia is making friends and has found some fun kids in her class and lucky for her almost all her classmates speak English. They have marching drills each day which is very different, lunch in their classroom, table tennis as and elective class, calligraphy lessons, and even eye exercises along with Science, History, Music, PE, and Art. They start school at 7:40am and ends at 3:15pm.
Max and Sepia have taken up table tennis as new sport. In the parks, there are 2-3 tables set up so we have been having fun. Max has been mastering his skills and the locals all want to play with him.
Even some boys have taken him on and taught him some new skills. Max is by far the favorite with the locals. Sepia enjoys doing this fun exercise swing at the park where they have some basic manual fitness machines which the locals (age 3 to 83) enjoy getting fit even some women exercise in their high heels.
Sepia is convinced this swing would be a huge hit on the playgrounds in Seattle. They also have a massive climbing wall at the park which the locals enjoy, too. Football (soccer) the kids will be playing games each Saturday with a British coach.
We walk everywhere. On weekends, 4-5 miles when we are shopping and checking out the city. The subway system is excellent. Shane takes it to and from work. But be ready to cram in like a sardine. There are bicycle rickshaws -drivers with a traditional 2 seater decorative carriage on every corner of our neighborhood constantly offering their services but for a big price as they are after the naive tourists.
Taxis can be good, but there are times it can be hit or miss for grabbing them in a heart beat. Like the other day, I needed to go out of town a ways, and after 4 taxi drivers, finally, I got a driver who knew how to get there. Thanks to Google translate on our phones- It has saved us so many times!
We bought a new electric bike! Shane can now get to work easily, and we can explore more of the city at our own rate. We are trying to get another bike as well.
We have enjoyed lots of: zhengjiao (steamed dumplings),
mifan (steamed rice), niuro mian (beef noodles), jiachang bing lazi jiding tudou (home style pan baked bread with quick-fried spicy chicken & potato), lizhi (lychee which is a delicious tropical fruit) and lots of other very spicy dishes (forget about STARS for how spicy it will be- just know it will be 5 STARS.
Roasted bullfrog (no it does not taste like chicken-it tastes more like seafood because of it’s amphibious nature). These are close to the correct phonetics of how to pronounce these foods, but it is not 100% accurate due to my font capabilities with Google. Eating out proves to be very inexpensive if we eat Chinese like only 80RMB for the four of us($12 USD). If we eat western food it can be expensive compared to Chinese food, $10 for a small box of western cereal and did I mention maple syrup for $12 a bottle. So Chinese food we are enjoying in it’s many variations, but there are days when we just have to have something else, so we go to the International grocery store, 3 blocks away called “Jenny Lou’s” and get some of our favorites like olives, feta, pasta, and Italian bread.
So far we have been enjoying many movies from local video stores for our fix of Western films. As well as 13 TV channels with Chinese news, Traditional Opera, China’s Got Talent and other Samurai warrior TV shows… One channel is actually in English which is a Chinese International News program.
Well, if you are in the neighborhood and would like to drop by for game of table tennis, glass of wine or bowl of hand pulled noodles…….