2 weeks in China
First flew to Hong Kong (partly because flights to China china were all full, and partly to see the what british colony China looks like), a crazy, sweaty place. Got my (expensive) China visa in transit, then took a ferry to mainland china to Shenzhen (where people from Hong Kong go for flights into China and cheap shopping) From Shenzhen I flew to Sichuan (or as some know it Szechuan) to the capital city of Chengdu, where we started a one week tour of the Tibetan Autonomous region there. We took a two day drive through the (gigantic huge)mountains to Daocheng, and then to the Nature reserve in Yading via Shangrila.
Next was Beijing. We stayed at this nice little hutong fairly close to activities. We went to the Forbidden city (an amazing place) and the Temple of Heaven (another suprisingly wonderful place, with the parks more impressive than the temple) We went to a architect villa called commune by the great wall out near the (somewhat unimpressive) great wall where we saw houses by architects, two of who were Kengo Kuma and Shigeru Ban. A hong kong architect made a 'suitcase house' where all the facilities (kitchen, bathroom, bed, etc.) are in the floor. I also went to the Dashanzi art district , a artist quarters thriving in an old maoist factor district (with communist slogans still intact).We went to the Summer Palace on the last day, the pinnacle of Chinese Landscape. Cixi's impact was felt everywhere in the city.
Beijing is a wonderful huge expansive city. This anti bar fly found a drinking district he actually liked. The Hou hai lake district, nothing but parks a few years ago, is now teaming in actually cool places to sit and drink something (not necessarily alcohol) with friends. Literally tons of sofas are placed right by the balustrades by the water right under the willow trees circling the lake. We sat drinking apple vinegar enjoying the nice scenery and willow trees and rickshaws.
It made me wonder why they hadn't done this with the lakes in Mpls.
Food was great, although greasy, spicy, and almost unpalatable in the west. I found some great buddhist vegetarian resturants in Hong Kong and Beijing that specialize in making 'meat' from vegetable products. In Hong Kong I had 'shrimp' with broccoli which was great. and in Beijing I had 'chicken cutlet' which was also very very realistic and good too. We also found a very good Hakka food resturant, which had a pressed tofu and asparagus shoots dish that I couldn't stop eating. China also puts sugar in most of its bottled teas, something very different (and didn't really like) from what I'm used to in Japan.
Don't listen to anything the media says about China. None of it felt right in my experience in China anyway.
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