Food outing #2: IUP vs. 北京烤鸭 (Beijing Roast Duck)

So our little foodie group decided to have an outing to have some good ol’ 北京烤鸭 (Beijing Roast Duck). Since there was a total of 12 of us, it took a ridiculous amount of energy and strategic maneuvering in order to travel through the whole subway system as a group from Wudaokou to Sansishitiao where the restaurant is located. Oh and by the way, all this was smack right in the middle of rush hour mind you. You might not believe me, but rush hour in Beijing is hardcore. You need to know where you’re going, who you’re going with, and what you’re doing at all times since there are people coming at you from all directions and you are being pushed and shoved and dragged along (by the stream of people) in every direction. Needless to say it took us about an hour to get from point A to point B, but luckily I actually made a reservation for the group and we were able to get seated right away despite the jam-packed restaurant. I wrote about this restaurant earlier when JK, JC, and I explored it prior to the start of the IUP program so I’m going to skip most of the food-description part and just talk about the ridiculousness that we brought upon the restaurant.

Since there were so many of us there, our order was almost as complicated as it could ever be ranging from the different juices and drinks that everyone wanted to the different dishes and vegetable categories we all preferred. In the end we just dumped the ordering responsibility to LY who was gracious enough to take it in style and speak her fluent Chinese to the waitress to get all our orders through. The large group ended up ordered five (yes, FIVE) different ducks. This would have been far from extraordinary except for the fact that this restaurant attaches a carving chef to each duck that is ordered. Ergo, we had FIVE DIFFERENT CHEFS carving roast duck at our table. So yes, we were the center of attention for quite awhile as the chefs slowly and painstakingly carved every part of crispy skin off the duck and beautifully plated it. Below is a picture of just a few of our chefs at work 🙂

By the end of the meal we were all ducked-out and could barely even finish the meal. HAPPY INDEED!

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Being a Tourist

Things I that happened or that I noticed today in no particular order without any rhyme or reason:

  1. Beijing is very handicap friendly. I don’t know if it’s because of the Olympics in 2008 or not but there are handicap signs and ramps EVERYWHERE.
  2. There is always music randomly blasting from some old man or woman in the park while they are walking/exercising. These aged Beijingers have perfected the art of concealing some sort of music-making contraption within their purses and/or murses (for the n00bs out there murses = man purses) so that there is always music mysteriously in the air. One day I’m going to have to ask one of them how they do it.
  3. Marriage of practicality and unfortunatality has resulted in the birth of the cut-out crotch in kids’ pants. I shit you not (pun intended) that there is just a cut from the front to the back of the kids’ pants so that whenever they crouch into the potty position, pants form a large hole down there and are completely out of the way. Voila! Kids will never soil their pants ever again! Potty problem solved! It’s a wonder when parents in the western part of the world will catch up to this innovativeness coming from the Chinese parental counterparts. But then again, I don’t know how many different diseases these kids can pick up just by sitting their crotch-less butts and fronts on different places…
    1. Unfortunately I was not able to snap a picture of this innovation, but will keep trying until I succeed!
  4. Chinese people will take over the world. Literally. There are SO MANY of them. I almost got trampled upon just trying to navigate my way through the Summer Palace in the afternoon. I feel safe saying that there were three or four times more Chinese tours than foreign tours at the Summer Palace today. Thankfully I strolled through the palace and around the lake earlier in the afternoon before the crowd hit.
  5. The subway system here is BAMF. I don’t think I could get lost here even if I tried. Everything is so nicely labeled with Chinese and English and there are signs EVERYWHERE telling you where to go and how to get to where you want to be. (Edit: Here’s a map of the subway system from Wikipedia – it’s very extensive and goes to basically all the touristy places you’d want to visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Beijing-Subway_en.png)
  6. I got accosted by (I’m suspecting) a con-artist today. A petite Chinese woman, around my age with short hair dyed to be the color of flames and fake contact lenses that made her eyes look like they belong to the Cullens after they’ve hunted, easily pinpointed the foreigner that is me walking down the street and ran straight up to my face and started speaking English to me. Thankfully I’ve read enough in Lonely Planet and on other China blogs to know that this fluent-English scam was either going to cost me at least 100 yuan or 100 yuan and my pride and dignity so I quickly said no and speed-walked away.
  7. I ate yangrouchuan(r –> in case anyone wants to speak/read in er-hua) today. I hoped in my heart as I bit into the delicious meat that it isn’t dog.
    1. Note: for the people out there who are not Chinese savvy, er-hua is the idiosyncratic type of Mandarin that Beijingers speak. They would grind up normal Mandarin and spit it out with an “er” ending to many words i.e. shui (water) becomes shuir. It is true that the Beijing accent is the nation’s most recognizable accent, but it still definitely throws me off when trying to comprehend the locals here.
  8. People here queue up to enter the subway in a practical fashion, but then a clusterfuck occurs when the doors actually open. Just when the doors are about to open, they would all push to block the passengers who are about to exit the train. Why?
  9. The Summer Palace is epic. A large portion of the grounds is built on the top of a mountain which was tiresome enough just to slowly stroll to the top. The sprawling Kunming Lake is grandiose to say the least. Just to get an idea of how large it is, the whole walk took me almost two hours even when taking many of the land-bridge shortcuts available.

View of the Summer Palace from a fourth of the way around Kunming Lake

10. Chinese innovation part 2: every country has hawkers who sell random crap. But it is here in China where I was introduced to what I will dub the party moustache mask. The fake glasses are attached to a moustache which is in turn concealing underneath it those party toys where the end unfolds when you blow into the mouthpiece and an irritatingly annoying noise comes out at the end. So when the wearer blows into the mouthpiece, the rolled up ends under the moustache extends in two different directions while giving off a loud and unnecessary sound. Needless to say I did not see anyone purchase the party moustache mask.