As June and the end of the program marches closer, I’ve been making myself go around the city a lot more during the weekends (I take about three naps a day during the weekdays). Classes are also ending soon-some even at the end of May- and I’m super nervous for this semester’s finals because I am #notready. I have so much to cover these two weeks! Read on for exciting, yummy adventures!
My Week through Food
I’ve mostly been going to a lot of different restaurants around the city because I love food and you can see and experience a lot of different places and people when you visit somewhere new-or maybe that’s just my excuse to pig out.
Where do I start…
The weekend of week 13 was the One Belt, One Road conference in Beijing so there was a huge crackdown on all the bars and clubs in town, the exciting part for me was that I got to see the information I learned in class in action. After the professor went on and on about “mutual learning, mutual benefit,” I finally saw the slogan all over the highways in Beijing.
For those who don’t know what One Belt, One Road is, it’s basically a development strategy for China (or the world haha) proposed by Mr. Xi to bring together countries across the globe in tadah, “mutual learning, mutual benefit” while recreating a Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road. As China increases its involvement in global affairs and grows in importance in world decisions, the One Belt, One Road strategy is an effort to push forward Chinese initiatives and open up more to the global arena.
Back to me seeing the slogans: I instantly pulled out my camera and started snapping at all the bridges that we passed by. The taxi driver probably thought I was crazy but it was super exciting because I really, really felt like I was in the capital of China right then. Wow! Big, important, global meetings! Things I don’t really see growing up in a small suburb or the politically stunted Canton in the south (I’m sorry, I love you, but it’s true).
The purpose of my taxi ride was to get to the Rosewood Hotel in Guomao for some yummy brunch. Lo and behold, I had to go through two security checks to get into the hotel. I’m guessing there were important peeps in there because there were a lot of armed guards outside as well. AH! SO EXCITING. I got seated in a nice window seat and the I ordered a three course brunch because I’ll probably not be back in long time and wanted to try as much as I can. I ended up with a lobster bisque, orange marmalade waffles, and some raspberry and pistachio ice cream. It was an amazing experience with top-notch service and peaceful atmosphere. Now I want to go back again…maybe two courses this time.
After brunch, I headed to Tai Koo Li in Sanlitun to study at Starbucks (so basic) and ended up falling asleep while writing “Disneyland Paris” which had nothing to with my notes on China and the DPRK issue. I ended up browsing the shops for a while until it was time to meet with my friends at Pakpak in Guomao. The restaurant was located next to a quiet park in CBD and was a super enjoyable dinner. We ended up grabbing dessert at Doko Bar as well.
On Sunday, I went back to Sanlitun again to try out Tienstiens, a very aesthetic dessert and bakery shop. The menu was in French and Chinese and since I can barely read fruit ingredients in Chinese, my four years of French finally came into use as I spent five minutes mulling over what pamplemousse was even after I ordered it (vaguely…a strange fruit that’s not strange…grapefruit…maybe). I ended up studying there forever as well before heading back to Guomao for my go-to tonkatsu place, Saboten-which I found out on another day, had a branch in Sanlitun but oh well. So crunch.
Sunday night was also PKU’s culture night and we got to make lots of fun crafts like candle-making, and play lots of games. I finally tried on a hanfu (traditional Han clothing). Rocking it.
On Monday, I realized that I lost my really old (circa 2008) China phone (I use my T-Mobile phone here for data) on the taxi when going to Doko so I ended up heading to the taxi company all the way next to the 798 Art District. After some awkward communication, with the taxi company at first adamantly denying that anyone would take it (I didn’t say anything, they said it first) to them being really confused about why I had two phones. Eventually I got them to call the driver and they came up with nothing which is expected, but it was worth a try and I got to practice my Mandarin with old people.
Since I was so close to 798, I hitched a ride on a taxi and went there. Might as well enjoy the day after losing my precious baby phone. I ended up chilling at Cafe Flatwhite (all day brunch!) for a while and strolling through all the little stores in the area. I realized that a lot of stuff aren’t really “special” anymore-most of the stuff being sold could be bought online on TMall or Taobao, and a lot of places were being bought up by huge corporates. It’s cool though, since the galleries are getting sponsored, and there’s a lot of diversity, and the more independent artists now also have their own space in a new area nearby…so I guess everything works out. I grabbed dinner at WKate before heading back home. The taxi driver asked me if I was in Beijing for a conference. At the same time that I was thinking, “Wow do I look cool and important”, I was also thinking, “Wow, do I look that old?”
Tuesday was our Chinese classes’ performance competition. My class (class president represent woot woot!) did a skit on the Duanwu Festival and got third place.
Since we didn’t have any afternoon classes for the week due to the competitions, my friend and I decided to hike up Fragrant Mountain （香山）on the outskirts of Haidian District. It was 35C that day or around 95F so we were pretty crazy. I was sweating like a rain cloud literally because for the first time in my life, my sweat was rolling into my eyes. The day wasn’t so clear so we couldn’t get cool panorama shots but it was still worth the experience. We probably gave our Didi (Chinese version of car sharing) driver’s seats some sweat stains.
Now we’re at the end of the week, and I’m sitting in a super pretty cafe called 静水 in Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷) typing this up. In the morning, I tried some super cool lunch at Toast at The Orchard and got to sit on the roof of a hutong. If you’re ever in Beijing, definitely try it out. The portions are perfect for sharing too!
To end the post: some awesome blue sky and flower pictures as always