Well, as you probably know, I was in China for about 5 weeks or so. My wordpress blog was blocked in China, however, and I was too lazy to implement a workaround. I did try to keep an offline blog for the purposes of posting it up after the trip, but after the first week, the schedule became a lot more hectic, and I just didn't have the time to write anything. I'll just post up the first few written blogs, and then see if I can write some stuff for the following days in a separate blog. Otherwise, I will just write a list of places I went to. I need to get this out of the way so I can get through this writer's block and start blogging about other things. Day 1 - Seoul, South Korea My mom, bless her heart, found a wonderful deal of about $775 for a round trip ticket to Beijing from San Francisco on Asiana Airlines, with a one night layover in Seoul, including a very nice stay in a hotel with dinner and breakfast. On my flight over there, I noticed that the bathrooms were always packed, with long lines, which is not what I'm used to seeing. Do asian people have smaller bladders? Who knows. I stayed at the Seoul Royal Hotel which was in the Meyong-dong area, where the hip and young people hang out (supposedly), with late night street markets lined with various fried korean snacks, fake purses, watches, sunglasses, and clothes. The whole night was pretty much ruined for me though, since I had an allergy breakdown and felt terrible.
Day 2 - Beijing, China On my flight to China, I had the surreal feeling of looking at the cabin in front of me and only seeing black hair. It was a sign of things to come. I arrived in Beijing and had my cousin Lamont's girlfriend, Anna, pick me up from the airport, holding a sign that said "William Tung." That's probably a first for me. I had a few days in Beijing with my cousin before my parents were to arrive, so we tried to cover all the less touristy places that wouldn't be covered with my parents. We had the obligatory peking duck for dinner, along with a delicious cold duck liver dish.
Day 3 The next morning, I got a haircut, which cost me 30 RMB, which is about $4.40. This gave me a 45 minute haircut from the head stylist, and 2 shampoo washes, and a hugely entertaining experience watching him cut my hair like it was his life's masterpiece. He kept telling me my hair was dull, and I had too many white hair, and needed to get it colored. I passed on that, and overall, that's quite an amazing deal. To get it all from a regular stylist would be 15 RMB, half the price. I also finally learned how to give my hair that matte look too. Later that day, me and Anna went to the Yashow Clothing Market, which was a tourist trap filled with fake items; anything you can think of. Most of which were of poor quality. I didn't end up buying anything, maybe I've gotten too picky about the quality of fake items, or maybe they just weren't as good as the ones from other places, like Thailand. At night, we met up with Lamont and his friend and ate at The Place, which had the second largest LED screen in the world, and had drinks right under it at CJW Bar. I had the Lychee Martini, which was gross.
Day 4 Sanlitun is a relatively newly cleaned up (for the Beijing Olympics crowd) area filled with bars, restaurants, and shopping. We pretty much spent the whole day here, first eating at Herbal Cafe for lunch (including yummy curry fish balls). Sanlitun is also home to the world's largest Adidas store, spanning 5 floors that showcase their premier lines, like Y3, Stella McCartney, and even their joint Adidas/Diesel jeans. They also had fitness and reaction test stations which were quite fun as well. Dinner was at Sino Hot Taste, which I guess was spicy enough to trigger diarrhea for the next three days. I'm sure you wanted to know that. We went to have drinks at Bar Blu afterwards, on a patio terrace. Lesson learned: alcohol and an upset stomach don't mesh well together.
Day 5 Four words: Oriental Taipan Massage & Spa. For 118 RMB (~$17), you get 90 minutes of heaven. You are first presented with a menu, where you can order as much food or drinks as you'd like, as many times as you'd like. I had everything from pork buns, to curry beef, to carrot juice, to dumplings. You get to eat all this while getting your massage. First, you get a rub down on your back, neck, and shoulders, with your feet soaking in a tub of some kind of floral water, as a pre-warm up. You see, we ordered just the foot massage, so this felt like kind of a bonus for me. Afterwards, the masseuse proceeded to massage the hell out of every possible nook and cranny on your foot,. Places that you never even felt pain before were suddenly brought to your attention. Afterwards, a rubdown on your calves and thighs, and then a wipe down with scalding hot towel. 90 minutes of massage and all you can eat food: heaven. Dinner was Japanese buffet, where I had skewered chicken skins, chicken hearts, salmon skins, and of course, Sashimi.
Day 6 First stop was South Luogu Lane, which was lined with small shops in little Hutongs, which is the old chinese architectural style. These 700 year old alleys and courtyards are fading fast, due to the modernization and constant construction of Beijing. A short walk west brought us to Hou Hai. This place is like a Chinese version of the San Antonio Riverwalk, lined with bars, restaurants, and shops, many of them proudly displaying large VISA signs to tell foreigners that their place is the place to conveniently spend your money. While walking along, I had skewered lamb and skewered caramelized fruits as snacks, the first of which was delicious, and the second, which was gross. Dinner, at S'Silk Road, was mostly good, and had Yunnan style food. My favorite dishes were probably the Goose Intestine stuffed with Egg Yolk, and the Banana/Egg/Milk Pancake Cookies.