Friday, February 18, 2011

Vacation!

The China - Japan diaries are taking a break so I can finish getting over this dumb pneumonia.

A week in the sun!

Day 3 Part III - getting around in the Forbidden City.

Ah, yes doors.  Down the center of the Forbidden City is gate after gate after gate.  A huge psychological effect for someone coming in the front.  But the super-duper private garden and home area of the emperor is just 1 wall (a thick high one sure) away from the outside.  In the past there was supposedly a defense of some sort out there, but compared to the front, getting out the back was a simple matter.
But along the sides, and beyond the grand, ridiculous, pavilions of the Forbidden City is a gated chess board.  

The area where the "royalty" of different degrees resided or did stuff is a claustrophobic's nightmare.  Typically a person (a concubine, a nephew etc.) would be assigned on of these minor pavilions.  They would have the building - typically a main room and some smaller rooms - these also suffered from the "one board of pierced wood" thick issue.  So if you weren't invited to travel to the Winter Palace - where things were warmer - you got to spend a huge amount of time figuring out how to stay warm.  (Warm baths were not an option... the Chinese have never really taken to immersing the body in water - and even today, hot water plumbing into houses is limited...see a later entry).

Say you were a 74th or 75th concubine, or royal but distant nephew, someone destined never to spend time with the Emperor, except at the largest festivals or events.  Outside your smallish pavilion would be a courtyard, and the pavilion and courtyard are encased in a square wall about 4 meters high (maybe even more, 15 ft?) anyway the walls tower over head, and there is no likelihood of seeing over without a serious ladder.  One may exit the courtyard through solid doors (when closed they as much a wall as anything else). into a "hallway."  This is a corridor, open to the sky, also surrounded by the same high walls.  And there are the same solid doors at either end.  At each of these doors you enter into another "hallway."
Each courtyard exits onto its own horizontal (East-West) hallway.  These all in turn connected to vertical (North-South) hallways that connect a series of the horizontal hallways.  So you feel like a chess piece trapped in this walled grid - each square, encased in walls and bordered by hallways with doors at the end of each horizontal line segment.  And not all of the doors were marked with characters, so even if you do read Chinese, you might have to resort to counting your way about.
And then there are the spirit steps.  Every singe door also has board at the base 4" to 12" high (depends on many things...) you must step over.  So to simply go from your pavilion to a friend's pavilion even one square over, you have to step over your step to get out of your pavilion (1), the one for your courtyard gate (2), the one at the end of your hallway (3), walk along a vertical hallway past the right number of  doors, another to enter the correct horizontal hallway (4), one for your friend's courtyard door, (5) and then, at last the one into your friend's pavilion (6).  Phew.  These spirit steps are there on the belief that bad ghosts and spirits float along right at ground level, so the step will block the spirit from getting in.  It is also believed that these spirits cannot cross water, and can only travel along a single line, so many temples, tea-houses, and other special spaces will have a bridge with several right angle turns over a pond, leading to an entrance with a spirit step (and some may even have a screen beyond the spirit step as a last blocking maneuver.  A spirit would get stopped by the screen, while humans can walk around it.)
If you ask me, all those doors and spirit steps most likely did at least as good a job keeping things trapped inside the palace to haunt a particular space, as they ever did keeping things out.
And then, 6 steps means 6 doors (at the absolute minimum).  And at many doors in the palace there would have been a "door opener,"  an actual position assigned to palace eunuchs.  So a visiting dignitary - and for all I know, palace residents as well - would move through the palace having to tip eunuchs 1 door way at a time.
If this was the everyday physical bureaucracy that reigned inside the palace, and still remains for anyone to see, no wonder the system imploded.  I can only boggle at all ceremonial and mental impediments that were in place along side these physical impediments.  And no wonder the Chinese felt as if Westerners just crashed around with no regard for the civilized way of doing things!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 3 Cont. Part II - Enter the Forbidden City!

  
We walked under the Meridian Gate (that's the gate with the Big Picture of Mao - where he used to give speeches... like the Emperors did too.), 




and into a courtyard much like any courtyard in front of a big tourist attraction.  It was full of ticky-tacky souvenirs only vaguely related to where we were.  Army hats, wind-up elbow crawling army foot soldiers, staring down a rifle, and other shiny-spinny stuff.  All the military stuff I had seen up 'til now (of the toy variety - not so much the real stuff) left me scratching my head as I would return to the hotel, and watch filtered BBC showing Hu Jintao saying that China has no interest in Military Hegemony.

(Special Note - while BBC was reporting the massive Mafia Bust, on CNN, Ricky Gervais was joking around with that guy who replaced Larry King.  That's CNN?)

One decidedly odd part about the ticky-tacky souvenirs was they are government sanctioned ticky-tacky souvenirs.  Somewhere, someone, on a committee at some time said, "Yes, these guys can sell this stuff in front of the Palace of our deposed Emperors."  Because there was 1 medium sized stall of this, not the chock-a-block one finds outside the Puyallup Fair or somewhere similar.  And as I was to learn later, most enterprises pay a portion of profits off the top to the government as a privilege of being able to do business.  Sort of like taxes, but it seems more in the way of a protection racket.  Especially since this change from all enterprises being run by the state, and now switching to things being run by individuals.  Sort of like the government realizes, individuals will do a better job, but they still want a hand in the cookie jar.  It just seems schizophrenic to me - and more and more so the longer I was there.
After we passed the gambit of noisy-flashy stuff we saw our way to the ticket office.  We 'New York Walked' our way through the "need-a-tour-guide-need-a-tour-guide" phalanx, and at last made it through the next gate that lets you in to the real inside of the Forbidden City.


The audacity of the place struck me as I came out into the plaza.  It was a bit like walking out onto the deck of an air craft carrier - that same human audacity to build something so huge - to hold it in a human mind.











Another thing began to weigh in on me as we walked through gate after gate, and saw pavilion after pavilion.  This palace has very little inside.  Yes, the pavilions have a roof and four walls, doors that open and close, but the walls are just one board thick, and are often pierced with designs - more screens to let light and air in rather than capable of keeping anything out.  The dress of the Chinese Emperors appeared to make a whole different sort of sense, as did the references to dogs kept in sleeves and on laps, and surrounding oneself with braziers (small charcoal burners) and wearing 4 or 8 or more... layers of robes.  I was wearing lots of clothing - and moving around, and I was freezing.  Pity the official who must sit still.  And wait.

a line of braziers in front of one of many thrones
I also began to get the feeling that visiting the "Palace Museum"  as it was called must be a soul-rending experience for many a museum curator.  The few artifacts that were in cases were housed more or less as one would usually see.  With a few oddities.  The sticky tack museums use to hold down items to prevent earth quake damage is usually clear - if you see it all.  Here - plenty of neon orange, and flashy turquoise were much in evidence.  While one area might be nicely laid out (like the wedding paraphernalia of the last Emperor of China), there would be weighty jade statues placed any ol' way (but tied down with fishing wire for earthquake safety), with paper scraps of their 17th century labels hanging off like pitiful ragged paper ribbons.

Or a fantastic jade carving all of one piece - with working sliding doors (well at one time), but carved as part of the piece - and translucent, but one of the sliding doors had been broken - and just left hanging crazily.  What was going in in this place?  
        The quilts at the doorways to hold in heat were an interesting touch.  Literally, large, heavy, thick, slightly over-door-sized quilts were hung over each set of double door sized opening.  And you pushed the quilt aside to enter any warmed or "temperature controlled" room.  (Heck - it could have been 50F degrees in these rooms, it just felt so much warmer than 18F.)  The "Spirit Step" did make sealing in heat with these 'door-quilts' easier, as there was substantial bottom edge to the door as well.  

Next time - The weirdnesses of the doors, halls, and getting really lost really easily.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 3 Part I - Using the Beijing Subway

Having seen the Big Breakfast Spread, the family decided we didn't quite need SO much food every day.  So we retreated to the hotel coffee shop the next morning.  They apparently use the same bakery, so the donuts, muffins and other pastries were just as unbelievably delicious as the ones at the buffet.  The coffee drinks were well made, and I heard no complaints from the hot chocolate drinkers.

Of interest - at the entrance to this coffee shop (and in other prominent spots in other Wester Style hotels, I would discover later) was a display where one could buy honey from "The Farmers of GuanBa."
In glass jars no less.
If you can think of something (in 10 seconds or less)  you would less rather pack in your luggage to take home as a souvenir, I dare you.  A glass jar or honey.  Really.

Anyway, we picked up Lonely Planet and headed for the Beijing Subway.  For those of you who haven't been to Beijing since before the Olympics... yes Beijing has a subway, and unlike so many other things we saw in Beijing, this appears to be robustly built and is happily and constantly used by locals on a daily basis.  In fact, during the few times Tavin and I used it during "rush hour" times, there was NO personal space, and much strap hanging was on.  Several Chinese we talked to were somewhere between pleased and surprised that Tavin and I used the Subway daily and liked it so much.  Sure there are still parts of Beijing that are hard to get to one the Subway, but it made getting around, overall, a breeze.

Side note about the Subway - it is definitely a manifestation of the weird control-freaky nature of the Chinese Government that would pop up now and again.  While you can buy a reloadable pass, it appears  one needs to speak or read more Chinese than NONE.  Most Beijingers are still learning the system so no one looked at me strangely as I squinted over the screen.  In fact, as I gained confidence, people would watch me.  Anyway, there was usually someone at a booth selling tickets - this is good because the machines have a spotty service record.
And this is where it gets odd.  Tickets are 2 RMB.  Machines only accept 10RMB bills and higher, and 80 out of 100 did not give change.  And you cannot purchase extra tickets... well you can, but tickets you buy are only good at the station where you buy them, and within 2 hours of purchase.  The ticket machines will accept the 1 RMB coins.  But if I handled more than 6 of those in my entire time in China, I'll eat a shoe.  
One time I was at a station where no one was at a window, and only 3 out of 8 machines were working, it was like the inside of a chicken coop.  You HAD to buy at least 5 tickets.  Everyone in Beijing has a pile of 1 RMB bills, but the machines only accept 10 RMB bills. (or 1 RMB coins).  I didn't have any coins - and neither did the Beijingers.
The upshot is, I bought the 5 tickets - and learned about the "that station only - within 2 hours of purchase limitation" and so ended up with 2 good tickets, and 3 souvenirs.  


This is what a subway ticket looks like.

If I had ever run into that situation again, I could have bought the 5 tickets, and sold the other 3 to people for small RMB bills.  But, alas, never had the chance.  And one wonders what the police/army presence would have made of that?
So we made it onto the subway, and headed for the Forbidden City and Tienanmen Square.  They are right across from each other - and have 2 stops.

Yes - you walk out of the subway stop into a post card of a visit to China.
Here is one of the guards.



Here is our version of the postcard!

Welcome to China - Yes, it is bloody Cold!

And then we went into the Forbidden City.  Visiting in January, I learned more about WHY the Chinese Emperors dressed the way they did than I ever would have at any other time of the year.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 2 - Part VI Ice Bumper Cars are Cooler than Ice Skates

The BEST Ice Activity Ever!

After the ALMOST of the frozen swimming pool, we just had to push on a little bit farther.  So we moved around the bend, and a few steps further on, until we saw this: 


As we closed in, we saw that it was not ice skating either.  It was better.  Ice bumper cars. 
We went to the window, and paid for two cars.  Since there was nothing going on, noone questioned my decision to give a little kid his own car.  And I had the money, which is about all one really needs as a reason in China - for certain classes of things.  There was a freshly cleaned fish in a plastic bag that hung from a branch by the ticket window that looked remarkably similar to the fish we saw frozen in the ice.  Which is when it dawned on me what the piles of ice chunks here and there around this ornamental lake. 


  People ice fish here - in clear defiance of the signs.  My gut told me it was most likely the employees before or after hours - or on closed days.  And they saw it as a perk for working there.  The "No Ice Fishing" signs apply to outsiders.
That mystery solved in my noggin, we hit the ice!

Darn it! Can't get the video to upload.  Go see it on Facebook.


  There were also ice bikes and ice desk chairs for rent.  The ice desk chairs where a bit blood curdling as one pushes oneself around using what looked like a large slot-head screwdriver blade welded to a metal pole.  One for each hand.  You use these to push yourself along like a skier stranded on flat ground.  It didn't seem too bad in these deserted conditions, but I can't help wonder what goes on with the crowds during the madness of Spring Festival (Chinese/Lunar New Year).  The ice bike was a pretty standard cruiser bike with the wheel touching the ice in back for forward momentum and some blades in front for steering.  A frame was also in place to keep you upright pretty much, no-matter-what.  There was an older man riding around and around on a yellow one of these as we capered about in our ice bumper cars.  And he kept staring at us like we were a particularly lively zoo exhibit.  I'm pretty certain that classification fit.
Well, after all that, there was little to do but walk all the way home.  We had passed a large, shiny new mall full of prestige brands (Solana Mall for those in the know), and it occurred to me this place might have a western-ish grocery store.  
Bingo!  So we stopped in and stocked up on liquids, cough drops (man that air was dry!) and a few wacky treats on the comfy side of familliar just for fun (cucumber flavored Lay's potato chips - they were potato chip color.  And seaweed flavored Pringle's - green of course).  On our way out, I did spy something odd from home.  


And what the busy home cook needs when in search of that last minute New Years treat, 


 500g of Peking duck in a stay-fresh foil pouch, for just 19.90 RMB.

We arrived back at the room and collapsed.  What a day.  Alec blew in from Singapore just about frozen to death (he'd just come from the equator after all).  We talked a little about the day, but since we'd all been up really early, dinner needed to happen soon.
We went to the Chinese fish restaurant in the hotel and were served a delicious dinner of an appetizer, steamed fish and vegetables.  As we were blundering about the menu, our waitress informed us that with one set of choices, 
"Oh, that will be too much!"  
Sort of the opposite of, 
"Super-size me!" 
Or, 
"do you want fries with that?"  
And this would continue to happen our whole time in China.
As you can see, Tavin is a big fan of fish steamed with soy sauce... all the way down to the fin tips.






(Won't touch caramel, or whipped cream.  Blessings as they come, I s'pose....)
Tavin was so tired he just about fell out of his chair.  So I took him up to the room where he put himself to bed while Alec and I chatted about more about our mutual adventures.
And then it was bed time for us too.





Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 2 - Part V Let the Fun begin.

Closing in on the Ice... yet distracted on the way.

Suddenly we saw a giant lady bug.


  
As we got closer we saw it had a door for a mouth, it was a building of some sort.  And as the signs had been promising the "Amusement Area" we figured this made sense.  Then the green sign with an arrow, that said "Toilet."  


Yes, the enormous ladybugs are the public bathrooms (strictly BYO-TP affairs - and only the Handicap stall contains a "throne."  All the rest require one to recall skills of the backpacker.  Even, my son informs me, on the boys side.)


And there are other ways the park is kept clean.  The translation - SO close.  And yet...


Next we began to spot the feral cats.  OK, semi-feral cats.

  
The park appears to leave food out for them.  Ya' know how all zoos seem to have squirrels.  This park has cats in the same way.  Except they aren't always perching on garbage cans.  But they were doing all the rest of the stuff; darting in and out of bushes, lurking on the edges of paths peering at you, scrambling up buildings.  And cats, unlike squirrels, bask in the sun.   


Many of the usual suspects for a "Fun Fair" for the kiddies were there, the silly little trains, like this one with the "Monkey King" theme.  


There were roller coasters of increasing thrill, and those semi-parabolic boat-rides, 

or as I like to call them, barf-o-matics.  

There was even a vaguely disturbing pirate-themed "go-round" of sorts,


where you sit in tea-cup shaped things, and shoot water cannons at manically happy, candy colored, cartoon proportioned animals in pirate get-ups.  OK, swords and spears I'm down with, the pirate theme and all.  I'm even willing to give into nun-chuks, they're Chinese cartoon pirates after all.  But the cheerfully grinning, purple elephant holding a thoroughly modern pistol, 


aiming it at the kids who need to be "Under 1.2m" 


was rather bizzarro, in a sinister way, to me.  

In the middle of it all was an enormous round building covered with brightly colored hexagons.  


Not until we made it around to the front could we at last figure out what it was.  It was a baby play space.  With a clear purpose.


Super-socialized Super-babies!

There was a lego store 

so your kids can whine at you, and plenty of space to fly kites.  But at last we made it to the prize, almost. 

A frozen swimming pool did tell us we were on the right track.  But this was just a place to rent little wooden boats and push yourself about on the frozen surface.  And a little midway - again, so the kiddies can whine while you say, "no."







 Tomorrow.... At last, the ice we have been searching for!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 2 - Part IV Venturing out - the park...

And into the park...


But we did, at last, arrive at ChaoYang Park.  It struck me as Central Park if Walt Disney designed it, but wasn't so picky about the architecture - or it lasting.  The Sino-Thai friendship pavillion is already crumbling at the ripe 'ol age of 6 years old. 
All this damage, despite the signage.







     Specifically aimed at children (and seniors), you pay admission, there is a map of ChaoYang park at the entrance, and lots of direction sign pointing your way to attractions.  The landscaping is "naturalistic" and yet, is signed for, among other things, a place for people to gather in the event of mass disasters.  Yes, the government permanently has signs up showing you where they've made plans to set up emergency shelters.  (I know all my emergency planning friends are a bit envious)




There are a few pieces of cool IKEA like (yes there is IKEA Beijing, no we didn't go.) exercise equipment.  Tavin demonstrated all the ones he could figure out how to work.  This included the "Gazelle" of late-night infomercial fame, a treadmill that makes you think of the rollers at the front of those X-ray machines at the airport, A largely resistance free "eliptical runner," sit-up benches, some round things, some things for stretching on, some other things, and a ladder of sorts.  





From there we went to seek out "ice skating," as we were told it did exist.... 2km away at the south end of the park.  Undaunted we started off.
With the winter sun bright, but low in the sky it was easy to keep track of whether or not our path was leading us south, since "ice skating" was listed nowhere on the signs.  And with 2 km to go we might as well do some sight seeing along the way.  

We saw the "Wedding Palace," and it looks just about like what it sounds - if you want to have as ostentatious a wedding as you can afford for 500 or so of your closest family and friends in the gaudiest place you can conjure in a Vegas meets Atlantic CIty sort of setting.  This is it.  
    At least from the outside, built in classical georgian victorian federalist english-country roman gothic style (really) it moslty comes down to a 3 story cube with a dome on top with more or less appropriately placed fluted columns, and porches leading out of the corners of the four corners.  A horseshoe shaped  trellis garden leads out to 2 piers into the frozen lake.  




What can I say... it screams Wedding Industrial Complex.  Now there's an area of know-how we could export.  I've seen some of the wedding shops, and tons of the ads, including the ones projected on the walls of the subway tunnels outside the car windows (Yes - even if you attempt to avoid the commercial onslaught of the subway car by gazing at the dark, blank walls between stations - that is no longer an escape.), and Modern Bride has a market wide open and waiting.  Though Martha Stewart has made her way into Japan.

We left that monstrosity and crossed a cool little draw bridge.

  There Tavin and I saw something neither of us had ever seen before:  A fish frozen in the ice.

answering, sort-of, an age old question....
  Since someone had already wiped the Beijing dust off the ice earlier, we were not the only ones fascinated by it.  
On the other side of the draw-bridge was a copy of a Roman-style arcade.  


An impressively hardy couple was taking advantage of the clear, sunny, but cold (-4C) weather for some wedding photos.  Whether they were models for advertising or a real couple I couldn't say, but the guy's white tux with black accents was eye-catching.


 Next - the amusing amusement park.



Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 2 - Part III Venturing out.

Step Four - ready to go our for real

Re-energized and with extra clothing on the outside and hot food inside, we hit the streets again.  Much more confident of our direction, we headed to Chaoyang Park.  It is STILL hard to fathom just how big the darn blocks are.  It didn't look that far on the map.  Was.  
So we had a great chance to learn more things about this fairly recently built/rebuilt corner of Beijing.  There is a focus of fancy cars in this section due to the high concentration of embassies and diplomatic staff.   So Tavin got his picture taken in front of a rather fantastical contraption out side a mechanic's shop & car wash.

Horns to spare
There is definitely a "new modern bunker-style" architecture that dominates the entrances and other visible parts of the embassies.  The Israeli embassy looks like the front could withstand a major storm surge.  We couldn't tell what this one was to become, but it sure looked like something.


Tavin got to demonstrate the hazards of being a pedestrian where it appears at lease 6 committees were involved in the the design, evolution and construction of a sidewalk.

Sidewalk will be the correct width, will contain the right number of trees, with correctly sized wells, the correct number of signs, light posts and etc.  At least everyone got what they wanted.
We walked past "Dining street" or "Lucky Street" (apparently answering to both names) which contained a rather impressive selection of restaurants hailing from all over the world.  Italian, South German, American South (Nashville) Thai, Japanese ("No Tavin, we are not eating Japanese food in China.) And several regional Chinese restaurants. (pix)


We got to see a river under construction,


 an "Information Island" of ironic proportions
,

and an intimidating poster of Chinese Youth (just what does the red minidress with white gloves, white go-go boots, white pistol holster and black sub-machine gun say to you?). 


Next - we actually make it into the park.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Day 2 - Part II. So we are in Beijing, but where are we?


Step Two - getting our bearings inside

First we explored the hotel, getting our bearings inside.  We learned that this hotel actually connects through a low building to the largely identical tower of apartments?(I think) next to it.  This short-cut came in handy a couple of times on just  our first day out.  Immediately, it allowed us to see the exquisitely carved 130kg mammoth tusks in the adjoining lobby. (Yes, mammoth tusks, not elephant).  The first one was a carving of 500 major saints of Buddhism.  The blurb next to it said it had taken a master carver and 10 assistants, 10 years to complete.  And there ARE 500 completely individual figures, with expressive faces, and their own little name placard on shoulders or around necks, including the monk who is said to have brought Buddhism from India,  to China, with his legendary companions Piggy and Monkey, and his faithful horse, all riding on the back of a dragon. And Sakyamuni.
The other tusk what another carving of nearly equally mind-boggling complexity and detail depicting the blessings of Fortune, Longevity. Prosperity and Mercy.  Then, map in hand we went outside.  Cold.  Fortunately bright, clear and cold, instead of cloudy, windy and smoggy, but cold, and even colder in the shade.

[Side Note:  I beg your patience.  The above, like so much of what I want to say keeps coming out as a run on sentence.  However this grammatical bad habit is actually a good way of expressing the experience of Beijing.  I can't say "China" because I haven't been there, but I'd suspect that too.]

Step Three - getting our bearings outside

Since we started at the wrong spot on our map, It took us some dedicated walking and gwaking to figure out where we really where.   Starting lost like that is not as tough as it may seem since all the maps I can get my hands either cover a postage stamp sized area showing only tiny streets and a sliver of a large street, or are so big they don't have ANY labels (Chinese or otherwise) on the small streets, so I am unsure which small street forking off a main road I am dealing with.  The wander about proved useful in other ways.   We fot to see; How Beijingers use those long heavy plastic strips you sometimes see over freezer and refrigerated sections as doors to keep people from, "Foom!" letitng out too much heat each time a door is opened.  
          Amusing logos (Pac-Man knock off as the spokes-toon for a restaurant), and the true tininess and heavy turnover of shops. 


       And leaned how far it was to the Subway.  We found a place to buy hand lotion and some candy to suck on for dry throats, and broke my first big bill.

Well, the only kind of big bill.  Note on currency: Chinese Yuan, or renminbei, or RMB come in 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 Y denomination bills.  There are 1Y coins, which are supremely useful in the strange, control-freaky Subway System (more on that later), but are rarer than hens' teeth.  The Yuan is also divided into 10 parts called jiao.  There are bills AND coins for these in denominations of essentially 5 jiao  and 1 jiao (for sanity's sake I thought of these at 50 cents and 10 cents).  The jiao is then divided into 10 parts called mao.  So in 1 yuan there are 10 jiao or 100 mao.  Nothing that I found was priced down to the mao.  I bought a few things priced down to some number of yuan and 5 jiao.  For walking around purposes it was useful to think of the 100Y as having the buying power of $20.  (It actually converts to around $16, but moving on.)  Can you imagine a society where the biggest bill that existed was a $20?  
Alec asked, "So what do the drug dealers use as flash."
Silly Alec doesn't he know there are no drug dealers, or anyone else who needs flash in China.  The government says so.
Actually reading the paper back out in the real world a few days later answered that question... they use American dollars.  Duh!

After our initial reconoiter, Tavin and I realized quite rapidly that we needed something to bury our faces in.  Scarves were called for.  We picked up a hot, eggy, saucy pancake with fried tofu-skin filling - with fresh chopped herbs - from a street vendor, and headed back to the room.  (FYI, I learned this is called "jian-bing" if you want to try it.  You can get it with chili-oil if you want)



(Sorry these last posts have been low on pictures.  I'll make up for it in the next posts.)