Sunday was pretty tame. We walked around the areas near my house so that yachi would not get lost if she decided to explore by herself. We ended up in wudaokou and eating Korean food at the place i had eaten with some work people. Pork fusion. i love that name. The food was good and i still love all the free stuff you get there, sweet coffee and sticks of gum. Hard to beat free sticks of gum.

we decided to walk home from the Korean restaurant which was cool because we saw all types of interesting things such as parking meters. It seems like most of the streets and parking lots around here just have attendants to take your money (ridiculous amounts of cheap labor) but for some reason one small section of the zgc has meters.

we also saw some donkeys which had not quite made it on to the menu at the hot pot place. We also saw a old man sitting right off the sidewalk wearing pink pajamas and holding tightly on to his lap dog. Not something you see every day. Unless you are in Beijing where you do see someone walking their dog in their pajamas pretty much every day at almost any time.

after the strain of walking all around we decided to go to bodhi and get full body massages. i know, i know, such a rough life is what you are thinking to yourself right now and i would have to agree. i mean we had to take a taxi to the massage place for our $15 full body massages. Talk about hardship.

one of the benefits of taking the cab though was that we got to see the pulsation fitness club which was right next to the fake walmart called innovatively enough galmart with pretty much the same sign. It even called itself a supercenter, as opposed to say a hyper market.

the only drawback with the massage was the frequent punching of the nuts. This type of massage was big on long strokes to move energy through the body and on the leg those long strokes were just long enough to pretty much punch you in the nuts or the labia if you were yachi. What made it a punch was the vigor with which the stroke occurred, a little less vigorous and it would have been a whole different ball game.

Saturday was a pretty tame day. i watched almost the entire second season of family guy while people cleaned my apartment. i had to make it look pretty for my guest (or more specifically the ayi's had to make it look pretty).

for dinner i went back to little fat sheep with hua. Lucky we went that night as they torn down that building the day after we went. Part of the fun of being in Beijing. There are more around i just have to find one now.

after dinner i jumped in a cab outside to go pick up yachi at the airport.

the cab happened to belong to one yang son yan. The first bizarre thing was that he spoke fluent English which is probably the first cab driver i have had that speaks anything beyond numbers.

he had a neon lit bowl thing below the radio. He asked me to guess what it was, i told him i had no idea and he asked me again "come on guess". i guessed ashtray and he told me how smart i was and how good a guess that was. He then cryptically told me there was a TV in the car and then blasted the radio. Playing was backstreet boys, another first for china, at extremely high levels.

after the song he asked me to guess where the TV was in the car. i told him i had no idea and after a couple more rounds of "come on guess", "no really i have no idea" he showed me the TV in the passenger side visor.

the TV happened to be hooked up to a DVD player and the audio output was hooked up to the radio. What this means is that as the backstreet boys were coming from the speakers, the video for the song was on the TV. i thought this was amazing but there was more.

after showing me one of the videos he pulled out the microphone so you could karaoke along with the songs / videos. That is right a rolling moving karaoke bar. The one and only karaoke cab in Beijing. He also had lights around the ceiling for a little mood lighting.

at first i would not sing so he just took the mic and sang at the top of his lungs to equally loud music while going 120 kph on the airport highway in busy Beijing traffic. It was equal parts terrifying, hilarious, and awesome. Something that will never be repeated. Until i call him to drive to the great wall that is.

he would not let me out of the car until i got in the front seat and pretended to sing into the mic so you get the picture of me singing to backstreet boys.

as side note my favorite apart of the ride was when he turned around after a song and said "is it ok if i play that one again, it is my favorite". For some reason i could not stop laughing about this. He really loved the backstreet boys.

here is the first thing you see walking out of customs in the Beijing airport.

after a delayed flight i picked up yachi and we just went home so she could pass out.

St. Patty's day lacked some green and friendly Irish spirit at work. It seeded a need for a pint of Guinness in my mind.

the pic to the left is what i walk through most mornings to get to work. These are all taxis sans hat, aka private cars that you negotiate the price to your location. They are all waiting for people to get off the train. One of the interesting things about them and regular taxis is that to move small distances they just leave the car off and push. Coming soon to an oil dependent America near you.

this is a pretty common site here as well. If it were me i would be screaming for the guy walking behind to be helping me with a fridge that i was carrying on my back.

after my pretty much normal day i decided to meet up with some people from Chinese school at an Irish bar later at night to have that Guinness and celebrate a little bit of St. patricks day.

after getting to the bar district in record time, i ended up walking up and done the streets looking for this Irish bar slowly picking up a larger and larger group of people who thought i knew where i was going. Surprise! i had no idea where the bar was either. Eventually my friends called and let me know they had moved on to a bar that i knew. i ditched the pied piperesque group and wandered over to bar blu.

it was more fun this time because it was a pretty large group of people. i might my friends Marjorie and Christine. Marjorie brought her boyfriend and five other Germans. One of the Germans was probably the most anti-American person i have ever met which was interesting. If you know me you know that i am not the biggest fan of current American foreign policy. His continuous attacks on me though led to me playing up the role of loud ignorant American which was a lot of fun. By the end of the night he at least would smile at my jokes.

Christine is a 19 year old who is taking a year between high school and college to travel and learn Chinese. She is living here by her lonesome which made me think an awful lot about my littlest sister and how she would do in Beijing by herself right now. It is funny how much i still think of her as a little girl even though she is about to head off to college (hopefully :). My little babys all grows up.

anyways it was a fun night even without finding a place that served Guinness in anything but a can. i got to play some pool and eat some late night dim sum.


because the outcry was so great after my last post i decided to add more fun work photos from the kitchen.

actually i noticed this logo yesterday but just could not manage to take a picture that was not shaky (damn early onset parkinson's).

this is the logo for haier refridgerators here in china. Apparently nothing says quality fridge like two young boys in their underwear giving you the thumbs up.

this is the last post for random pictures i uploaded a week ago where i forgot any of the fun stuff that actually happened that day so going forward most of the posts should have more meat (if something fun actually happened otherwise i will continue to fall back on semi-interesting pictures).


i am scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Some photos of the hot water machine in my office kitchen that i thought were particularly amusing.

who knew that a hot water heater would tell such a romantic art life natural story? Not i.

another cool thing beyond the way the design of the water heater romanticizes my natural story is the capacity of this heater. None of these pictures really give you a good perspective but the heater holds something like 6 liters of hot water. Tea is popular here but even more popular is straight hot water.

what is frightening (to me at least) is that i am beginning to enjoy hot water. i caught myself sipping on some hot water last night and thinking "man this really hits the spot. a nice full mug of hot water was just what i needed after that relaxing foot massage". The varied ways in which we mature and change.


so we are at Sunday. Today jasmine and i woke up and went to the forbidden city and tiananmen square. It was still bitter cold but at least it was clear out. The pictures for forbidden city and tiananmen are posted separately as there are so many of them.

after walking through tiananmen square we went to the south where some of the hutongs that remain in Beijing are located. The hutongs are the traditional style of housing in Beijing that are mostly torn down now so that large ugly apartment buildings could be put up in their place. Oh, and malls, lots of malls in their place.

i liked the full scale picture of Iverson on the bus. Kind of surreal considering you don't even see that in Seattle. Instead seattle's buses do silly things like adding wireless to the bus. Side note, i think this is a really bad idea and a continuation of the loss of a clean line between work and home. Now when i used to be able to read or just stare out the window and think about things i am going to be expected to take advantage of the wireless and be checking email or something on the bus. Maybe i should be a luddite.

another general tso spotting. The guy eating his meal in this picture looked so shocked when he realized that i was taking a picture of him enjoying his tasty general tso's.

the hutong area looks like it is about to be torn down which is too bad. The tea house i went to back in august is gone and all the stores are gone. There is still some of the area left but we will see how long it lasts.

you can see some of the areas that are being torn down here.

here are some things that should be torn down. For some reason everyone in Beijing thinks that these megaphones are the best advertisement device ever.

basically they tape down the trigger on the megaphone and blast what i am guessing in Chinese is suitcases, backpacks, suitcases, backpacks, etc...

here is one that probably is saying tights, shirts, tights, shirts, etc... Although this one is slightly better because it was the first in what is now a recurring theme. That of mannequins posing outside stores. Be prepared for many more pictures on this.

guess what this one was saying. I'll give you a hint, think of things you wear on your feets like shoes and sandals. Then repeat that thought through a megaphone in your brain FOREVER while screaming cause the megaphone by itself is not loud enough. You have to scream to really get your point across.

here the store keeper decided to give a little something back to the local economy and hired a guy to stand on the street and yell as loud as he could continuously into the megaphone. He must have been a student of circular breathing as he never stopped or lowered in volume.

more mannequins outside a street that closed. Yes that is right the entire street was closed. The store owner being a caring store owner decided to set her mannequins free once she shut down her store. But did she worry about things like where would the mannequins eat? How about sleep and fun? No, not at all. so now the mannequins have turned delinquent and just hang out on the street looking for trouble. It is well-intentioned decisions like this that are putting Beijing in danger.

here is the entrance to the hutong or as jasmine said "what i expected china to look like".

here is what it looks like once i allowed everyone back on to the street. It is a pretty popular place to hang out and wander around.

they have some really good restaurants here but you probably should have your full hep a set before eating there.

they also have random china kitsch for about 75% of the price of the markets so it is a good place to go to pick up small gifts for all your friends back home (except the loyal readers of this blog who will receive something really nice and expensive, not a .25 jade pendant :).

here is where the government has been disposing of all the delinquent mannequins who cannot give them an official store of residence. It is so sad to see the moral fiber of beijing's mannequins decaying in this fashion.

this is Michael schumacher's bike. Watch out taking off from a red light for the Schumacher chop.

after wandering through lots of dusty areas jasmine and i decided to grab the subway to wangfujing to get some foods.

we found where the sidewalk ends for the blind people following the blind path. If you miss the day in blind people navigation school that teaches you a sharp left turn of 7 dots means that you are wandering towards a steep drop off on to the third rail you are in trouble.

the weird thing about the blind people path is that i have never seen anyone using it. The only blind person i have seen is the guy playing the Chinese guitar (sorry for my cultural ignorance, that is pretty much what it looks like) and the people in the blind massage parlor.

here is an ice cream bar that turns you into a princess. The only drawback is that they cost 2 million quai and you need to send a application to buy one to the royal family in England.

after a nice dinner at south beauty which has become my favorite nice dinner place (thanks Jason and holly) we decided to go to bodhi yet again and get foot massages.

the taxi driver dropped us off in front of the archery range which i am definitely going to go back and check out.

At this point it has been close to two weeks since I have posted, no I have not died or decided I don't want to post anymore. People visiting (jasmine & yachi) have taken a lot of the free time I had to devote to the blog and the other little bits of free time I had were taken up by reverse engineering our IM client's communication with it's SQL backend (yeah you weren't supposed to understand just be very very impressed and think "wow that must have taken a lot of his time")((also I would not fault you if you thought "that justin he is one smart engineer who manages to have a keen fashion sense and a rapier like wit")). Suffice to say that posts will probably not be in real time until I catch up (maybe in April but probably never) and probably a little less common.

with that public service announcement out of the way, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

So I believe this is the post from Saturday. Just to set the scene, jasmine was in town and it was pretty cold out. Like snowing in the morning cold out.

we decided to head to the electronics market to find a camera / video recorder that marques wanted. He had told me that most of the ones on eBay were coming from china and specifically Beijing. We headed to the zgc to find this very special camera.

on the way there we say a man traveling in style. He was passed out in the back cart while his indentured servant biked him around town.

we did not ever find the camera but we did return to the hot pot place I liked there. I thought I would be able to at least order us some basic food but had greatly overestimated my Chinese abilities. Luckily there was a student sitting next to us who was helpful and spoke English. There also was an older couple who would ask the waiter to grab us utensils as they became needed. Like when we tried to eat the noodles we had dropped in out pots with chopsticks (aka an exercise in futility).

the snow and the rain from the night before left a nice film of dirt on all the cars outside. That should give you a good indication of how great the air / environmental quality is here.

we headed back to the apartment to drop off jasmine's purchases and see if there were a dedicated sanyo dealer (the camera maker) in Beijing. Turns out that there is not one in Beijing and the majority of the cameras on eBay were coming from Hong Kong, which is not really china no matter what the prc says. All the domestic, government owned airlines treat a flight to Hong Kong as an international flight.

we took a cab to the pearl market as jasmine wanted to perhaps buy some pearls. The traffic was not so good so I got a good chance to perfect taking pictures from a moving car. As you can see though the weather cleared up some even though it was still ridiculously cold.

here was a hypermarket we passed. I am not sure what makes it hyper. I imagine that they sell things at an insane rate in this store. Also everyone talks very fast sounding like the chipmunks.

I learned how to say market and supermarket in Chinese during class but hyper market is still not part of my Chinese vocabulary. Looks like I have something to ask a question about tomorrow during class.

also I have made a decision to take a picture of all the general tso's restaurants I see in Beijing. Later I can make a map and sell it like one of those celebrity maps in Los Angeles.

this one was located in the south west section of town. It was fun driving through this area because I had not ever seen it. To be honest though it looks a lot like the rest of Beijing. Not many of the buildings here have much personality.

we talked about this in Shanghai some. It turns out that they are growing so quickly here and labor is so cheap that they are just sharing plans for buildings. Getting an architect to design an all new building is too expensive and there are plenty of others going up that have plans you can borrow. Makes things more efficient I guess but leads to a pretty drab place.

every once in a while though you see something random to spice it up a little bit like this random sculpture on the street.

the pearl market itself was fun. It was more enjoyable this time as I could watch someone else buy something instead of just wandering through with my headphones on. We also went to the prestigious forth and fifth floors which turned out to be quite a bit nicer than the rest of the market. jasmine found what she told me was a good deal on pearls. I really had no idea.

I had just finished reading an article about conducting business in china and how after a little bit of friendly haggling, the store owner gets you a glass of water and you sit down to really talk business.

this is exactly what we did at this store. I kept myself busy chuckling about that for quite some time.

on the drive there we saw this market and the phrasing of the name made me wonder what it was they were selling. For some reason it brought chicago's commodities to mind.

jasmine and the store owner talked about different things about pearls using many tools and rubbing lots of different pearls together. Apparently that is a good way to discern the quality of a pearl. If it is smooth when rubbed against another pearl it is fake.

they kept given me pearls to rub together and asking me if I felt the quality. I, of course, said "ooo, yes. How could you not?" while wondering to myself what I was supposed to be feeling.

one of the coolest areas of the market had been pulled out though for reconstruction. They had a bunch of posters and curios here that I was looking forward to going through one afternoon. I won't be doing that unless they add the section back with the same stalls. They will probably just put more handbags there, we will see.

after the pearl market we went to go get a backrub at bodhi which was awesome. The masseusse actually climbed on to my back at one point and used her knees on my back. That was kind of a surprising maneuver. Also jasmine told me that they rub the breasts there so if you are female and come to visit consider yourself warned.

after massages we grabbed some Thai food and went to saniltun street. It was pretty quiet as it was so cold and still pretty early. We stopped by a DVD store and then went to the tree. This bar has been highly recommended by many different people and it does not disappoint. It has good beer, good pizza and is quiet enough to let you talk but not so quiet that you feel like you always have to be talking.

as we were walking out we saw this ad for a tour to north Korea. What is the tour of? Millions of people living in an incredibly repressive country while starving or only what the grand super friendly happy leader decides you can see? I will never know as they only give visas to about 100 Americans a year and I cannot see myself having the credentials to get one of those anytime soon.

Nothing terribly exciting happened today (Monday). i ate a whole pizza at pizza hut after class and had to walk back to work because i was so full.

this picture on the left does not make any sense to me so i thought i would throw it out to the group. Let me know if the you can determine what the slogan means.

on the walk back to work i took a small detour through the American southwest as evidenced by the large cacti i came across.

who knew that Beijing was so arid.

so i bought a new bag for carrying my books and laptop to work and school. As i was sticking stuff in it this morning i was reminded of this post in jason's blog (who i visited in Shanghai). As the post is about hot pot i decided to find myself a hot pot place tonight.

i stopped by one near where i live and was pleasantly surprised to find an English menu. i was even more surprised to find that this hot pot place was one of the ones that served many of the aphrodisiac meats. These meats are basically penises and testes and donkey (i cannot really figure out the last one). The have a lot of penis on the menu and two pages dedicated to testes. The donkey is on the secret meat page. Next time i go i will remember my camera and silence all you doubters.

i was not feeling terribly adventurous so i stuck with regular lamb. i did fall into the same trap that everyone going to hotpot seems to fall into. i ordered about 30 pounds of food. Luckily i have learned how to say "i would like a box". Now my fridge is full of uncooked tofu and cabbage. Late night snack heaven here i come.

last night i found out why no one seems to open the windows into the drying area for your clothes. Sure they dry quicker but you walk around all day smelling like dust. i have to try to find the Chinese equivalent of febreeze to make the rest of my clothes return to smelling normal.

music recommendation, happy Mondays - pills, thrills n bellyaches - factory. Big up to uncle Dave for introducing me to this band. i have been listening to this album since i was in my teens at some point (damn early onset alzheimers) and i still love hearing it. The singing is horrible but the melodies are the best in brit pop.


so here is some catch up for the weekend.

a taxi trying to get his fare just a little bit closer to where he needs to go, by driving far far down a sidewalk. Near the far group of people in this pic is a barrier that i passed a lot wondering why is that there? Who would try to drive down a sidewalk that far? Now i know and knowing is half the battle.

i found a good Korean place and went there for lunch with a couple of people from work. It was a good lunch, we ended up talking about middle eastern politics. It was an interesting discussion and the first time since i got over here that i have had a long discussion on politics that was not explicitly tied to china.

walking home from work that night i was able to see a train finally on the tracks i cross all the time. Hopefully next time i will be able to get a better picture. It is weird being able to be within arms distance of the train though with 50 other people who are waiting for it to pass.

jasmine got in Friday night and we grabbed some dinner at my favorite sichuan restaurant. i realized that i have become a little more acclimated to spicy food than i realized. We had some good fish but it was a little spicy for her. we even got to go back and pick the fish out of the bin, talk about fresh.

we thought about going out after dinner but ended up watching batman begins back at the homefront. after a week of starting to be spring weather, jasmine managed to bring rain and snow with her. by the time we left the restaurant it was a nice blend of sleet and freezing rain.

this picture is in here because the spelling error on it makes my inner nine year old giggle. i never said i was the most cerebral person you will ever meet.


the spam ratio for this blog is increasing, how exciting.

i saw this little boy on the walk to work this morning. He was having a great time jumping up and down on the steel support he is standing on in this picture. Once he saw the camera though he froze and just stared. Actually it might have just been me. Sometimes when people walk out of a door and see me they just stop moving and stare at me until i am past them (actually they might continue staring i just don't know about it once i pass them).

i am trying to put together a fun weekend for my friend jasmine who is visiting so if you have seen something in one of my posts (or somewhere else, traitor) that looks like fun in Beijing let me know and i will make sure she sees it as well. Right now i am planning on hitting the main tourist sites and some interesting markets.

i ate tonight at rbt which has a picture of a rabbit on its sign but is apparently called something different in Chinese. The food was the closest to American Chinese food i have had here but the bubble tea was great. More of a sit down and chat place than a eat dinner place.

guess what they are putting together here? If you said another restaurant you are almost right. They are just putting the shine on an empty restaurant that closed because it was no longer "new". After they change the tables and the decorations it will be the hottest restaurant on zhichun. i bet the people who just finished putting together the new restaurant down the street from me (and this place) are pissed.

music recommendation, David bowie - the best of bowie - virgin. changesbowie is probably overall better because it really has no filler (aka bowie's latter stuff) but the first disc of this set reminds you of why bowie is so influential and has a lot of songs that weren't on changesbowie. Sure he did a awful collaboration with Mick jagger but he also did suffragette city. Listening to this shames the current glam movement (new York dolls reuniting without Johnny thunders, wtf mate?).


nothing really exciting happened today except some work stuff and i am trying to stay away from the scintillating topic in this blog.

on most sidewalks there are these knobs on the ground. They usually run in a line along the sidewalk. i have been wondering what they are for a while and when i was in Shanghai i saw them yet again so i asked holly what they were for. Blind people it seems. It is a pretty good idea and them seem to be all over the place in China's two biggest cities so i imagine they are used in the rest of the cities.

they cover most of the areas you would want to go to and seem to prevent you from falling off the subway platform.

the most exciting thing that happened to me today was my kitchen discovery. i usually just grab water or tea from the water cooler near my desk but today i wanted to walk around a bit so i went into the kitchen to get water. To my utter amazement i found a coffee machine that made hot chocolate at the press of a button. Talk about heaven. i drank around 11 cups of hot chocolate over the rest of the day. The machine also makes a mean mocha and lots of other stuff that i did not try. i have not been eating many sweets so my sweet tooth is back in force.

this car was outside my office today. If you look at the sign on the door it says fun car club. i think that is the best way to describe this car. i mean Oakland a's seat covers and a snoopy headrest cover. i wanted to start dancing like it was an ipod commercial around the car. It also was made much more fun because it was just a normal compact sedan if you removed the fun accoutrement. are there even a's fans in the us?

music recommendation, cujo - adventures in foam - ninebar. amon tobin's first record made when he was like 2. It is not as dark as the work under his real name. Jazz as you have never heard it before. He takes a lot of art blakey samples and warps them in ways that make your ears bend.


it looked as if this whole sidewalk was built over garbage but that is not the case (i think). People just shoved the garbage as deep in there as they could.

last night was interesting. i went to walmart to buy some visitor supplies for jasmine's visit this weekend. As i was walking around with my headphones on i realized one of the employees was shouting something at me. Turns out he wanted to practice his English on me. We talked for a while with me trying some Chinese and him speaking pretty fluent English. i will have to swing by there every week or so to say hello. He was so enthusiastic about English, he made me excited about it.

i also bought some rolls. Last time i got these there was delicious red bean pasted inside them. i could not remember if i got the green or the yellow one so i just picked up a pack of both. So excited about the dessert in my future i ran home.

i opened the package so expectantly and took a giant bite of some custard type deal. No worries it was the other color than that had the red bean. i opened that package and tried one. Still no red bean, this one was apple which was good but not as good as i wanted. It seems that there is some indicator i have not noticed on this bags (perhaps the Chinese writing, hmm?). i will just have to keep trying.

other than that not much exciting happening here. School was difficult. i am having great difficulty making my mouth pronounce some sounds. Also my hat goes off to whoever was able to hold down a full time job and go to school. This is just language class and i am having a hell of a time studying.

music recommendation, el-p - high water - thirsty ear. This CD is part of the blue series continuum that is being put together by Matthew shipp. He is a jazz pianist that makes jazz / abstract hip hop cds with other jazz musicians and hip hop musicians. This one is with el-p of company flow and definitive jux fame. It is pretty much a jazz record with the bladerunner paranoia that is present in all of el-p's work. a great album for walking around to or to listen to when you feel like paying attention to the music.