Back from Beijing.

DSC_1021Sebastien fought jet lag and a serious lack of training to successfully run the annual Great China Wall Half-Marathon. The kids and I tagged along for the long week-end to enjoy the sights (including the faces of those who had decided to try the full grueling marathon)….. and the meals!

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Naturally we tasted some of the local delicacies – and of course this included Beijing/Peking duck.  We enjoyed the wood-fired duck which was carved in front of us and which we then ate on pancakes with cucumber, scallion and hoisin sauce. The duck carcass was then taken away and fried with spices before being returned to the table.The flavor brought back distant memories of Kentucky Fried Chicken (only better).

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We also tried a lesser-known dish from Beijing: zha jiang mian. This is a dish of cold noodles onto which the waiter adds a series of vegetables and leaves the client with a bowl of pork sauce to add and mix at will. Very yummy

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We visited the usual suspects: the incredibly immense Tiananmen Square and Forbidden Palace, but also this lovely Heavenly Temple which was set in the middle of a bustling park which – like many of the parks here in China -was full of performers. People flying kites, playing music, singing (from karaoke to opera), doing tai chi, ball room dancing….. whatever it is that their small apartments prevent them from doing at home.

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One of our favorite things in Beijing were the ‘hutongs’ which were composed of grey-tiled houses built around courtyards and linked by  alleys crossing each other.  It was fun to get lost in the ‘maze’.

Off to France next week for a family wedding.

‘Shanghighs’: It was somewhat amusing to hear the locals in Beijing criticize their compatriots in Shanghai (and vice versa).  Apparently the people from Shanghai are ‘selfish, superficial and rude’.

‘Shanglows’: mosquitos are back

‘Shangunusuals’: with less than a week’s notice we were sent this explanation for closing the school today: “We have just been informed that the government has declared a public holiday for schools and government offices on Wednesday, 21st of May, in Shanghai.  The President of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, will come to visit Shanghai. He will hold a meeting on that day together with other important officials.” 

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Now these are really public toilets!

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