Friday, April 24, 2009

Cold noodles and dog meat

Dalian is a lovely city. Unfortunately, I was only there for one day, and the only buildings I entered were my hotel and a prison, so I'm pretty sure I missed a few of the more scenic areas. (Dalian is on the coast, about a four hour drive south of Shenyang.)
This the view from my hotel room, which makes the city look more drab than it actually is:

Also, random picture: this is a monkey in a cage at a roadside gas station just outside the city. saddest monkey ever :(

The next afternoon, we hired a driver and I traveled with a local staff member to visit a few unsuspecting visa applicants in Fushun and Tieling. These are smaller cities a couple hours north of Shenyang. How small?
mule-driven carts loaded with coal caused traffic jams. doh.

unpaved muddy roads caused dump trucks filled with gravel to overturn just in front of us. Luckily, we couldn't go faster than 20mph anyway.

so different from the American northeast...

We had to take a country road between the two cities, so I took a few video clips on the way:



After a long day of fraud investigations, we return to the city:

狗肉 and 冷面 = dog meat and cold noodles. YES.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

我爱上海 = I <3 Shanghai

I love Shanghai so much. That's pretty much the gist of this post.

Last weekend (April 10-12) I visited my friend Caitlin who lives there. This is the view of the alley that leads up to her apartment building:

On Friday I walked all over the city. Here's a view of the urban planning museum from the park at People's Square -


Inside the urban planning museum, there's a big model of the entire city, which you can view from the floors above. When I visited, a local official was showing around a large delegation of African politicians. It was pretty cool to see, but I wish I could've known where they were from, what they were doing there, etc.

all this can be yours....

apparently, Kissinger is also intrigued by Shanghai's urban planning. just one more thing Henry and I have in common.

(that's a picture of a picture, in case you couldn't tell.)

view of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower from across the Huangpu River

did I mention I love Shanghai?

Easter brunch with the girls :)

Short video clip from the cab on the way to the airport. It kind of gives a sense of how big the city is (also, I feel like it should be set to dreamy emo music, Lost in Translation-style).


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Come to Harbin. See the sights.

Last Wednesday and Thursday (April 8th and 9th) I went to Harbin (Ha er bin - 哈尔滨), capital of the Heilongjiang Province (黑龙江), which is even farther north than Shenyang:

It is not a garden spot.

This was the view of the Songhua River from my hotel room. Apparently, the "river view" was an upgrade.

Harbin has a long history of Russian influence, so it has lots of random old Russian buildings, like this Russian Orthodox cathedral.

Me in front of the Cathedral:

The Songhua River actually made international news a few years ago, when a chemical plant exploded, causing 100 tons of chemical pollutants to contaminate the river and travel downstream towards Harbin.

Here's a view of the river during the evening:

Apparently, the locals were unfazed by the 100 tons of leukemia-causing pollutants, as the river is *the* place to be at night:

Here's a view of the city, as seen from banks of the Songhua River. It's pretty much where Soviet architecture goes to die.

Interesting ads on balloons in town:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Great Wall getaway

Two weekends ago (April 4-5) I went up to Beijing to see friends and meet some people over at the Embassy. Since it was a long weekend, I stayed through Monday night and basically spent half my time on the wall.
On Saturday, I went on a 10k hike on the wall with some embassy peeps:

It was such a pretty day, and the cherry blossoms were just beginning to bloom.
This is Angela, an embassy friend -

Angela and I, still very happy, because we have no idea how much more hike we have still ahead:

Me, later on, on the 'wild' part of the wall, which is very overgrown -

All the embassy friends -Angela, Holly, and Landon:

Beautiful scenery on the way down:

and back in Beijing, they may be modern enough to have an Adidas store, but apparently their window washers still balance on buckets:

Interesting art work in Sanlitun Village:

Sunday afternoon, bunch of embassy ladies stay at the schoolhouse at mutianyu (people rent out their summer homes like hotel rooms at this part of the wall, so we rented out three and hiked around).

Marcie, me, Sonia, and Nancy:

a tower on the wall:

yeah, so instead of hiking down the mountain, you can also opt to toboggan down. yes. toboggan. clearly, it was not a difficult decision.

This is our rented house at the base of the mountain:

Back in the Jing:
nothing to see here. move along.

cutting edge fashion, circa 1992.