Beijing – Part 4 October 8, 2009Posted by jorkat in Beijing.
Instead of writing a 5,000 word essay covering all of our adventures in Beijing, Katie and I decided to sit down and conduct a more formal interview. Katie prepared a series of questions which I did my best to answer. Here is a transcript of the interview.
Click here if you missed Part 1.
Click here if you missed Part 2.
Click here if you missed Part 3.
Katie: Welcome back to the final installment of this painfully long conversation between Jordan and I. When we left off, Jordan was describing in excruciating detail our longest day in Beijing. After finishing up at the market, where did we go next?
Jordan: As you may recall, our day started off with me on the toilet as a result of our first chinese food experience the previous evening, so we were a little gun-shy to get back on the horse. We had worked up quite an appetite and wanted something safe that wouldn’t require a translator or copious amounts of toilet paper.
Fortunately our Lonely Planet guide described a nearby bar within walking distance of our current location that had a pool table, round-the-clock drinks, and excellent bar food, especially the Tex-Mex stuff like Burritos and Quesadillas. They had me at pool table.
It ended up being less than a block away and appeared before us like an oasis. It was called “Rickshaw” which according to Webster’s dictionnary means “greatest restaurant in the universe”.
Katie: I think it’s actually a form of human-powered transport involving a runner pulling a two-wheeled cart.
Jordan: OK, maybe that’s the primary definition but I’m not exactly sure. All I know is that if you’re ever looking for an authentic Tex-Mex experience outside of North America, I highly recommend Beijing. The food and atmospere completely exceeded our expectations.
It was relatively early in the evening on a weeknight so the bar was almost empty with the exception of a few other groups of foreigners enjoying a meal. We both ordered our own burrito and a guacamole appetizer which they prepare from scratch right at your table. It was glorious. I’m pleased to formally announce that guacamole is now my official favourite…topping?…condiment? Whatever it is, I could eat it everyday. If I’m ever at a restaurant and can’t decide what to order, I usually end up choosing whatever has more guacamole in it.
Anyway, the meal was great and the drinks were going down smoothly when all of a sudden I heard a soft voice calling my name. I looked around the bar unable to discern where this heavenly voice was coming from until it came into view. It was the pool table.
There still weren’t many people around and I couldn’t convince Katie to play so I simply walked around the table hitting random shots hoping someone would feel sorry for me and ask me to play.
Katie: It was pathetic.
Jordan: It was. But it worked. A young Chinese girl asked if I wanted to play and it was on. She ended up being one of the owners of the bar and was quite good…so I promptly destroyed her. We must have played 6 or 7 games and I put on a display of precision shot-making that had the bar buzzing for seconds, if not minutes. I wish I could take credit, but I’m pretty sure it was the guacamole.
Fortunately for me, the bar was also equipped with Wi-Fi, so Katie was able to check her email on our iPod Touch for the first time since we checked it at Starbucks a few hours before. Our good friends Matty and Chrissy had finally just got engaged so she was in full blown “I hope I’m a bridesmaid so I can go psycho about this wedding” mode. She had her face glued to that iPod looking at pictures and sending out emails as if I didn’t even exist. Which was fine by me, ’cause I was in the zone.
Katie: I was doing my impression of you every time you’re in the midst of a stupid Fantasy Hockey/Football trade, only multiply that by a thousand.
Jordan: Touche. Eventually my opponent had to go back to work and Katie managed to pry herself away from the iPod long enough to play a couple games with me. Luckily I was able to get some pictures as evidence of this historic occasion.
Katie: Moving on. Anything else about Rickshaw you’d like to mention?
Jordan: Did I mention they have satellite TV and were showing NBA Summer League games on multiple flat-screen TV’s throughout the bar? Seriously, if I could get that guy who gave me the foot massage to work at this place, I would never have to leave. Guacamole, Beer, Pool, Wi-Fi and of course, my beautiful wife – this place had everything.
Katie: Nice try. You’re in the doghouse for the wedding psycho comment.
Jordan: Yeah, I thought so.
Katie: Aside from me not knowing who Albert Pujols was, what the the second biggest disappointment of the trip?
Jordan: We didn’t get to spend nearly enough time at the Forbidden City and Tianamen Square. We spent a couple hours wandering the Forbidden City and got some good pictures but it was extremely crowded and started raining, so we only got to see Tianamen Square across the street from a distance.
Here is the lone picture of Tianamen that we got from a cab as we drove by:
We were lucky enough that the rain held off long enough for us to explore the Forbidden City, but certainly not as long as we would have liked. It’s massive. Lying at the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Now known as the Palace Museum, it is to the north of Tiananmen Square. Rectangular in shape, it is the world’s largest palace complex and covers 74 hectares. Surrounded by a six meter deep moat and a ten meter high wall are 9,999 rooms.
Basically, it’s where the Emperor went to work.
For those of you keeping score at home, so far we’ve visited the Emperor’s Church (Temple of Heaven), his cottage (Summer Palace), and now his office (Forbidden City). The only place we didn’t go was his grave (Ming’s Tombs), but judging by the size of his other dwellings I suspect some considerable acreage is involved. I think they may have been overcompensating for something.
Here are some pictures:
Until 1924 when the last emperor of China was driven from the Inner Court, fourteen emperors of the Ming dynasty and ten emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned here. Having been the imperial palace for some five centuries, it houses numerous rare treasures and curiosities. Listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987, the Palace Museum is now one of the most popular tourist attractions worldwide.
Construction of the palace complex began in 1407 and was completed fourteen years later in 1420. It was said that a million workers including one hundred thousand artisans were driven into the long-term hard labor. Totally worth it.
Katie: I couldn’t agree more. Who cares about human rights when you can have such a finely appointed work space.
I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but last question.
Jordan: Make it a good one.
Katie: What was your favourite outfit that you saw during our entire trip?
Jordan: Hmmm, I wouldn’t call it my favourite outfit as I’m not privy to any Chinese child pornography laws, so I will simply call it the most terrifying outfit we saw.
I won’t attempt to describe it either and will let the picture do the talking. Brace yourselves.
Apparently it’s something that young children who are too old for diapers, but not yet fully toilet-trained can wear without having to worry about soiling their undergarments. They simply let ‘er rip whenever and wherever they want. We didn’t stick around for a demonstration though.
The obvious question that comes to mind is do they offer a similar garment for the elderly. Think about that for a second.
Katie: On that note, we should probably wrap it up.
Jordan: Good idea. I’d like to thank our readers for their support, my lovely wife for her patience, and Wikipedia for 90% of the content.
Katie: We’d also like to point out that our great friends Sean and Erin are back in Korea and have their blog up and running again. They were the ones who inspired us to go on this adventure in the first place, so check it out when you have a chance. It’s a much shorter and enjoyable read than Jordan’s lengthy diatribes.