Buh-bye Beijing & Gerbers

We had an incredible few weeks in the city. Not the least of course which was the fantastic hospitality! After Jim came back we toured around a variety of amazing sites, (most with Jim, some without) with occasional CJ recharge time here and there. Our first day back to Beijing I (stoopidly) made a sarcastic remark to Jim about his toque and insulated gloves. Well, we quickly went to a market in the neighborhood and bought some North Face imitations for all of us as well. It was rather nippy! Especially since none of us had really really worn long pants or shoes since departing Edmonton six months previously.

Our week with Jim (and also the few days of the six of us after Letty returned home) can pretty much be considered an orgy of eating! We saw lots of amazing sights too of course, but the food stands out as a very fond portion of our stay there. Even if I had cared particularly about loosing weight before, these two weeks would have blasted me back up into the 210+ pound realm. We naturally went to a famous (and down to earth) place that specialized in Peking Duck. (The city of Beijing was formerly called Peking.) This ranked right up there with having a Singapore Sling in Singapore (well, except for the fact that Claudette and I chose NOT to have such an expensive girly drink while we were in that nation/city.) except the duck was great! We were a little short on actual duck meat for the five of us, but got by and really enjoyed it. On some other nights we had incredible beef ribs at a place where we ordered them a half day in advance since they usually run out. We finished off three huge plates, (along with other plates of dumplings & greens and stuph) and none of us left hungry for desert that night, (no matter what Luke might say now). Yet another places’ specialty was some sesame coated and glazed ribs which were also delicious. The table next to us got a Peking Duck, and we longingly watched their plates go by, before turning back and digging in to our excellent ribs. There was just amazing food every which way we looked. (Oh, and cool cultural stuph too… Yeah, lots of goodly cultural stuph…) One other meal (and dining style in general) worth noting were the “Hot Pots”. This can be done different ways, and typically just includes a can of sterno (a jellied type of Kerosene) under a frying pan still burning. It is set in the middle of the table for everyone to extract the sizzling food from. Very Nummy! Another derivation of this that we went to was actually a type of fondue though. It had a double style of pot in the middle of the table. The middle section was for charcoal briquette’s (sp?) burning, and the “outside” attached pot had boiling water in which we put all sorts of raw food to cook it. The raw foods included a variety of vegetables, thinly sliced red, meats, tofu chunks (just for Jim) and fish meatballs. The food was really good, but the concept was way cool! We all enjoyed ourselves so much that we looked around for, and eventually bought one of those pots. It cost just under $50 to buy, and another $35 to mail home. (Keizer’s and Gauthier’s, buy some charcoal so you can be ready and try it when it arrives! The kicker is, ya hafta use chopsticks to get everything out! My pot, my rules…)

All in all, it was really great to see Jim and Letty again. Our visit was just too short, (plus they have a HUGE! LCD TV that we all enjoyed watching. I wonder if he’s compensating for something though???). Our entire visit there consisted of us (together and individually) all asking them to come and visit us in Smith. Airfare of $800 each from Edmonton seems to halt most people’s aspirations of coming for a visit though, and the Gerber’s were no exception. We will continue resorting to pure guilt to get our way though…

The only other regrets I have for our visit in China was not being able to fit in (monetarily and time wise) the Three Gorges Dam, and much of Western China. There is so much more to this vast and culturally rich country than just the little swath of Eastern section we made it to. I didn’t push it too hard though, since it’s obvious that China should really almost be a two to three month (minimum!) trip unto itself. We’re very happy with the sights and activities we managed to fit in though. And we’re most happy of all to have been able to visit with old friends who don’t look as though they’ll be returning from foreign teaching anytime soon.

Lastly, I should casually mention that leaving Beijing and arriving in Bangkok marked the extent of our bulk Airtreks purchased tickets almost a year ago. The remainder we have just purchased ourselves a few weeks or months or so in advance, as we cruised along. While we are confident now in “winging it”, it was sure nice having the first half all scheduled and looked after for us (and tickets in hand).

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