Maria Holland

Summer Palace

In Uncategorized on June 12, 2015 at 4:07 pm

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:

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 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?)

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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!

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Definitely much better in the summer :)  We also climbed up to the top of the Temple of Fragrant Incense

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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.

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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.


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