I have a good friend in the Bay Area who is from Beijing; she introduced me to some friends of hers here, and today I got to meet up with one. We met for lunch at the U-Center, where we had a fantastic lunch. She’s a native Beijinger, but clearly has the heart (and stomach) of a person from Sichuan. She asked the waiter what the spiciest things were, and the crayfish that we got were not spicy enough for her :)
We nearly ordered this:
but I convinced her to go for the bullfrog instead (which was delicious, although whole enough that you could not forget that you were eating a frog). My parents’ least favorite experience in China was eating pig’s blood soup and trip with bell peppers, which remains a running joke in my family. When I texted the above picture to my mom, she said it sounded like a good day to start a diet :)
The restaurant was quite nice, and the service impeccable. We were practically given PPE (personal protective equipment) in preparation for the experience of eating these crayfish – several pairs of disposable gloves, multiple packets of wet wipes, and even a clear plastic cover for our phones. Our bowls, which quickly filled up with miscellaneous crayfish parts, were emptied several times.
After a delicious and filling meal, we were joined by her classmate Cedric, and a woman that I believe he had just met on a blind date? We got into an Uber and headed towards the Summer Palace. (We stopped several times along the way, to end the trip and to start a new one, because apparently the driver gets a bonus for more trips?)
I had also been to the Summer Palace with my parents, but it was pretty miserable in February and I wanted to see it in, you know, summer. We walked around for a while, and honestly at this point the old buildings just can’t hold my attention. But eventually we found the water!
Definitely much better in the summer :) We also climbed up to the top of the Temple of Fragrant Incense
which was, thankfully, not that difficult the day after the Great Wall. There was a nice breeze up there, too, and a beautiful view of the lake and the city.
After the Summer Palace, we took the subway (my first time on this trip) and walked through a giant mall at Zhongguancun, where I got my first [disappointing] milktea. Then we sat outside for a while, talking. I tried out my new phrase, 不明觉厉 (I don’t quite understand, but I think you’re great!), on them, and they laughed and said it was good – apparently it’s popular on the internet. Then I told them about my research . . . and they said 不明觉厉. Haha.
They helped me buy discounted movie tickets (33元) for me and a bunch of EAPSI people to see Jurassic World. We have two paleontologists among us, so I thought it would be really cool to see it with them.
The movie was pretty ridiculous. So formulaic – earnest young child, aloof older sibling, type-A straight-laced adult (an aunt this time, though, not mother or father), a hawkish asshole we couldn’t wait to see die, a mad scientist, and a good-hearted dinosaur trainer who sees them as the animals they are. Also, the dinosaurs had lips, which is apparently hugely controversial. But, it was enjoyable.