I flew to China on Turkish Airlines, with a layover in Istanbul, and I was delighted to be fed a little Turkish food on the way, reminding me of some of the great food I had a few weeks back. On the ground in Beijing, as I was leaving the international terminal, I saw a sign saying – “When in Rome, do as the Romans do! Respect other cultures, do not litter and preserve the environment.” Initially I laughed at the irony of this, given the reputation of the Chinese internationally, until I realized the sign was actually in the departures section, and apparently they realize exactly what their reputation is and would like to change it.
The food in China was great. Chinese restaurant food there is a lot like Chinese restaurant food anywhere. The Kung Pao Chicken was exactly what I’m used to, though there were other dishes I’ve not sampled elsewhere. The food (like everything) was incredibly cheap, multiple meals we had came to around USD$1.50 per person.
I ate about half of my dinners at my friend’s home with her and her parents, and they were all pretty fantastic meals. Her mom cooked most of the delicious stir fried dishes and her dad sometimes made some amazing meat. One night we decided to cook a couple dishes ourselves to feed her parents, and I think they liked them.
We took a hike up Yingmeng Temple Mountain, which was steep, but had some gorgeous views. And a goatherd.
After that, we took a short little walk along some walkways built on a scenic little lake near Yahe Park.
At various points, we visited some little villages to eat in, and most villages have a beautiful gate or sign with the name of the village which I always enjoyed seeing. In the nearby village of Yongning, we managed to make it to a Catholic Mass (after a couple hours on a bus), which was in Chinese, and quite a nice experience. At least the song in Latin I could sing along with…
And we saw some weird stuff – anything in English was questionable, often very odd phrasing, if not completely incomprehensible. I experienced a new flavor of Pocky which I had not tried before – blueberry – which was quite good. Many mornings I woke up to gunfire, and I later walked past the guns responsible; apparently they are used to celebrate weddings and other ceremonies. One quite strange thing we found in Beijing was a placed that sold multi-layered ice cream cones – they would take a cone, fill it with ice cream, shove another cone into it, and repeat. It was way too much ice cream, but it let me have the “squishy crunchy bottom of the cone” eating experience 5 times.
After Beijing, I flew back to California, happy to again be able to speak English to almost anyone and have it be understood, and to see my cats. And drink some cold Mtn Dew. Ah, wonderful Mtn Dew.