|My hostess with the most-est|
We went to the luxury shopping and foreign area known as Salitun. When we were here 6 years ago, most of this did not exist. I only remembered I had been here when I noticed the Embassies on the other side of the street. We wandered a bit and then met up with our friend Jenny and her friend at a bar. From there, we jumped on the metro back to Chunguang's neighborhood to meet her husband, daughter, and in-laws for a Sichuan dinner. I was looking forward to a spicy meal, but there was no heat in the peppers just excellent flavor. From there, we met back up with Jenny at The Emperor hotel's rooftop bar that had an incredible view of the Forbidden City. My pictures do it absolutely no justice. If you go to Beijing, this is a must see. The bar is removed from the hustle and bustle of the streets and is a quiet retreat with the Forbidden city lit up in the background. Just, wow.
|View of Forbidden City at night|
|Girls after rooftop drinks|
The next day, I requested that we head to the Olympic village, as it was just being built when we last visited in 2007. First, we had breakfast at home of a porridge that reminded me of a soupier cream of wheat and some sticky rice and meat/beans wrapped in banana leaves. It unfortunately rained that day, but we did not let that stop us. We did a quick tour of the village, took photos and got back to the car. For lunch, I had asked if we could have dim sum and dim sum we had!! I do not know how those little bites of food can fill you up so quickly, but this was one of the best meals I have ever had. We had a variety of things including: durian puff pastries, fried chicken feet (a bit difficult for me to eat around all the bones), shrimp dumplings, pork buns, vegetable buns, spicy noodles, and these incredible custard and mango things. We had to be rolled out of the restaurant.
|Dim Sum remnants|
Due to the rain, we decided that an indoor activity would be best, so they surprised me and took me to a really cool spa for a foot, neck, shoulder and arm massage. It was a perfect afternoon.
|Private room for our massage|
|Relaxing during the foot massage|
I had told Chunguang that I wanted to see the local Beijing, that the last time I had followed my guide books, but it was all the touristy things, so I just wanted to eat what she normally ate and do what she normally would do with her friends. That night, we went to their neighborhood restaurant for another mouthwatering dinner. They ordered far too much food but it was hard not to keep eating, each dish was different and delicious. On our walk back to the apartment, I saw beautiful watermelons and asked if they were expensive here. They said no and bargained with the woman to get a good deal and we walked home with a big fruit :) In Korea, they are prohibitively expensive, so even though I had no room, I couldn't pass up on a taste of the famous Beijing watermelon. That night, I slept like a baby.
|Local restaurant, enough for twice as many people and cost about $15 with beer|
|Street food- crepe/omelett goodness :)|
|Cluster of empty yogurt containers|
|Delicious Beijing Yogurt|
|Blue skies in Beijing, rare site :)|
The next morning, Chunguang, Jenny and I went to 7.9.8 area, which is a really cool artist neighborhood that used to be old factories but was converted by poor artists who were eventually kicked out by wealthy ones once they had made it popular (sound familiar lower east siders?). It was really funky and cool. We sat in one of the coffee shops and chatted over a very light breakfast of a latte, all I could bare to eat. After spending the morning there, we met up with Tingting and Chunguang's husband for hotpot.
|Chunguang's awesome daughter!|
|Hotpot! Check out those peppers :)|
|Plum juice- yum!|
From there, I had just enough time to grab my bags and head to the airport.
This trip was more of a culinary tour and catch up than a touristy one for me. Just how I like to travel :) If you head to Beijing, send me a message for recommendations!