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China, Day 7: Letters from Lokenore

Lee Family Reunion 2006: China
A Tronkie Travellogue
Day 7: Beijing, China



08:15-09:15: I find that my uncle's ADSL connection has gone on the fritz. For the next hour, I move around the house, checking wireless reception and the wired connections. I realize that Hirilonde (my Dell Inspiron 6000 notebook) is connecting to the TPLink wireless access point just fine; it's the WAN that's inaccessible.

09:15 - 11:15: I work on photos and wait for the ISP repair folks to get here. My uncle's neighbor spots me taking pictures of the neighborhood and asks me what I'm doing. I introduce myself as a family member and he becomes a bit more friendly and relaxed. He invites me across the street to look at his unfinished house and take pictures from his balcony.



He asks my age; I tell him that I'm 32 and he seems a bit surprised that I'm a faculty member. (Given the family that I'm visiting, it really shouldn't come as any surprise at all.) He asks a few more questions: How long does it take to fly from Chicago to Beijing? How many siblings does my uncle have and how many are here for this reunion?

He reveals that his house cost 15 million RMB (just under $2M USD), but I tell him I do not know the exact cost of my uncle's house. By the time he moves on to specific questions about my uncle's work at Google China, my Chinese has undergone a bit of "sudden deterioration". You never know.

I learned from my uncle that there are a couple of movie stars in the community and this gentleman confirms that some of the residents are actors and others are businesspeople. All in all, it's a very interesting visit.

11:20 - 13:05: Here are two CNC repairmen in the garage.

Broadband repair people are a bunch of putzes on either side of the Pacific: "deny everything" is the order of the day, you need your ISP password, and of course your cable modem, or router, or NIC, or all of the above, are broken.

14:45: Let me tell you, nothing beats watching BSG on a 120" screen.

17:30: My Fourth Aunt and her husband arrive, bringing the total to eleven: my grandmother, my folks and myself, my Fourth Aunt and her husband, my Fifth Aunt, and the four people of my uncle's household.

17:00 - 21:00 BST: Dinner at the Jade Garden.

Appetizers

Hairy peas
Cherry tomatoes
Marinated jellyfish with cucumbers
Tofu skin with mushrooms
Diced pork intestines with jalapeno peppers
Pork ribs
Tofu sponge (kaofu)
Imitation duck
Steamed buns
Candied ham with lotus seeds and yams

Main Dishes

Sauteed shrimp
Marinated eel
Roast chicken
Filet mignon cubes
Red dates filled with glutinous rice
Chicken feather cress

Signature Dishes

Roast duck with sweet and sour sauce
Whole 16" shad with bacon, ginger, and mushroom

Soup

Scallop, shark fin, and abalone soup with cured quail eggs

Desserts

Green tea pastries

Second Dishes

Steamed open dumplings (shao mai)
Deep fried pork buns

--
Banazir

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
banazir
Jun. 23rd, 2006 10:16 am (UTC)
Vegetarian options
I have to tell you, I love reading about your trip!
Thanks! I'm glad you and others seem to be enjoying it - that's why I'm writing it, after all.

How are the vegetarian options at the restaurants you've been to in Beijing?
They seem to be quite good, as there are many, many mushroom and stir fry dishes. At Dazhaimen on the 18th we had a five-mushroom stew. To be honest, though, I can't tell you how much variety there is, because vegetarianism and Chinese food are somewhat antithetical. The former is associated primarily with monastic life.

I'll pay closer attention to the various qing cai (green vegetables). I've seen napa, bok choys of several varieties (including one called "qing gang cai" or jade-green vegetable), and tender greens such as pea shoots and something called "chicken feather cress".

--
Banazir
neadods
Jun. 23rd, 2006 12:14 pm (UTC)
I'm really enjoying the pictures and the descriptions (particularly of your fluctuating grasp of Chinese!) but I have to ask:

...chicken ...feather ...cress?
banazir
Jun. 23rd, 2006 12:18 pm (UTC)
Chicken feather cress
My dad swears up and down that it's ji1 mao2 cai4, but don't quote me on cai. It's ji1 mao2 something, a thin green watercress-type vegetable. It's very delicate, a little thicker than the tendrils of snow peas, and it comes in mounds and mounds.

--
Banazir
neadods
Jun. 23rd, 2006 12:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Chicken feather cress
Ah! That plate of it looks rather good.
banazir
Jun. 23rd, 2006 12:49 pm (UTC)
Qing cai
My icon is just generic qing cai, probably qing gang cai.

My dad checked with my Second Aunt and uncle, who live in Taiwan, and they confirm that ji mao cai is really what the dish from Jade Garden is called.

--
Banazir
sze
Jun. 23rd, 2006 02:33 pm (UTC)
awesome
love reading about your trip! more pictures..
and that menu sounds yummy :)
banazir
Jun. 23rd, 2006 03:38 pm (UTC)
Xie xie!
I forget - where in China do you hail from?

--
Banazir
sze
Jun. 24th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC)
Re: Xie xie!
my family came from the Chaoshan region.. near guandong. :)
banazir
Jun. 25th, 2006 09:10 am (UTC)
Chaoshan
Cool - were you born in the States?

--
Banazir
bojojoti
Jun. 23rd, 2006 09:57 pm (UTC)
It's been a very interesting travelogue.

I forgot to mention a few posts back that your little girl cousins (nieces) were adorable.
banazir
Jun. 24th, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC)
Jen and Cynthia
Thanks! They're my first cousins; their dad, Kai-Fu Lee, is my mom's younger brother.

--
Banazir
kaladhwen
Jul. 23rd, 2006 08:18 pm (UTC)
Interesting about the neighbor!

I love how he got more relaxed once you said you were family, LOL.

OMK I LOVE THAT VIEW FROM THE BALCONY. HOLY COW. That's like, the perfect perfect spot to have a house. Everything is green and beautiful and there's plenty of yard space as it should be, yet you can also see the city in the distance, and it's close, yet you still have your space, AND OMK. I WANT TO MOVE TO CHINA NOW. ;)

And I want Chinese food too now. Though I've never had "real" Chinese food, just American Chinese food, but Panda Express is good enough for me. ;)

Amusing that you found tech support so stupid no matter where you go...
banazir
Jul. 24th, 2006 09:27 am (UTC)
High flets and wookiee food
Interesting about the neighbor!
I love how he got more relaxed once you said you were family, LOL.


Heh, well, I figured that his point of view was: I'm going to check on the construction work on my new hows, and here's this strange guy, dressed in American clothes, with a camera. He must have gotten past the guards somehow, so if he's not part of the family, he'd better be here on official business, and probably shouldn't be snapping pictures of the neighborhood.

(I didn't zoom in on people's front doors, but I did aim my camera at the cul-de-sac. Pity I didn't get the gym building and the lake.)

OMK I LOVE THAT VIEW FROM THE BALCONY. HOLY COW. That's like, the perfect perfect spot to have a house. Everything is green and beautiful and there's plenty of yard space as it should be, yet you can also see the city in the distance, and it's close, yet you still have your space, AND OMK. I WANT TO MOVE TO CHINA NOW. ;)

Yep, that's what I thought of the balcony. Very open; it felt spacious - not just the room but the city. The way it admitted light made you want to just sit up there and take in the warm sun over the city.

My 08 Jun 2006 entry shows the view of the whole city to the right of the house.

Click the image below for closeup view and see here for my comments on all the new construction work going on everywhere:



It's an expensive neighborhood, but a houses like those cost at least three times as much in the USA (materials cost triple and construction work is ten times as expensive).

And I want Chinese food too now. Though I've never had "real" Chinese food, just American Chinese food, but Panda Express is good enough for me. ;)

I like Panda Express; it's plain, it's Americanized, and you don't have to worry too much about unexpected reactions. I surprised myself by eating one of everything that anybody offered me, though I didn't finish a few things (abalone, the quail eggs, shark fin), and I didn't take more of some things (pork ears, sheep tendon). Theoretically, the weirdest thing I had was guilin gao (Guilin paste), which miyeko calls "turtle goop"; it's a gelatin made from the inside of a tortoise shell (semi-soft, ink black, and bitter), cut with some fresh honey. You know Guilin better as Kashyyk, as some of the scenes on the planet (the water and mountains surrounding the wookiee platforms) were shot there.

My cousins live in Guangzhou, where really exotic dishes such as water cockroaches are served. My cousin's GF tried it and didn't care for it, but... yeah. I am still not sure I want to try it.

I'd eat any wild animal if it is humanely killed and isn't poached, but I won't ever try one that's kept purely as a domesticated household pet here (dog, cat). Turtle and alligator, definitely; mouse, maybe, though I'd be just as happy skipping it. I won't try bear or tiger or wolf paw because to date, those are mostly illegally hunted or trapped. So are elephants, even pandas.

Amusing that you found tech support so stupid no matter where you go...

Tech support is so stupid everywhere I go! >_<

;-)

--
Banazir
kaladhwen
Jul. 25th, 2006 04:11 am (UTC)
Re: High flets and wookiee food
Yeah, the city is large but it doesn't look as...crowded as lots of big American cities are. Very nice.

So, what you're telling me is that basically you had Wookiee food? ;)

Yes, Panda Express is nice and safe, and I love it cause they tell you up front there is no MSG added to their stuff. So I don't even have to specially request stuff and then worry about the order being messed up and me still getting sick from it.

Well at least bad tech support is a universal thing we can all bond over. ;)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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