China – photo album

The complete photos of the China trip are here. I really should go back and reprocess some of the pictures using a bigger monitor. That never happens – I’m not a fan of post-processing so I try to do it during the trip.

Temple of Heaven

Some of the parks around town charge a minimal fee (10-15 RMB, $1.50-2.50 USD) for entry, and we think it’s for folks to have a less crowded space to hang out and play cards/dominos/Chinese chess. Everywhere we go, there are huge crowds, so the parks offer some respite.

And then you have the tourists…

Zoo Day

If you want to see pandas, the Beijing Zoo has about 5 pandas. They’re absolutely adorable, and the country is stepping up the efforts to save the pandas in the wild. I would skip the rest – somewhat sad to see the other animals.

Forbidden City

Built in 15 years by 1 million laborers, the Forbidden City has over 900 buildings and covers 7.8 million square feet. It’s impressive. You walk through gates and you think that’s it – we’ve reached the end. That’s never quite the case; there are always more massive halls, buildings, or gardens.

Mutianyu Great Wall for Beijing isn’t that great. I didn’t know this when we first got to Beijing. So, I saw the weather forecast and decided that we had to go to the Great Wall the day after we got here. There was a little bit of research and some debate as to which section of the Great Wall we wanted to see (while minimizing car time). We decided on the Mutianyu Great Wall; the option to take a toboggan down made it a no-brainer. 40 seconds in, you’ll see the worker try to slow Pete down as we’ve taken off on a downhill section.

The Great Wall is impressive – built stone by stone centuries ago, high in the mountains, as far as the eye can see. I’m usually not afraid of heights, but I had a bit of vertigo walking up the steep uneven steps. It was one foot in front of the other, hoping I wouldn’t misplace a foot and tumble down the steps.


Our trip to Shanghai was about eating. Every day, I had a list of places to eat, and we’d usually overstuff ourselves at lunch so we couldn’t be bothered to eat a big dinner. We met up with Joel, Elisa & her daughter Megan for the first few days, and it’s always nice to see friends in a foreign land. Thanks to Joel’s Shanghai guide, we got to see some great stuff:

  • Walking to the local bao cart for breakfast each morning. On our last morning there, the cart was missing, and we even saw others asking for it. The baos we found on the food stall street nearby wasn’t as good.
  • Walking through People’s Park on Sunday afternoon and seeing parents with homemade ads to marry off their kids. We were able to recognize heights and photos of houses and cars.
  • Riding the maglev at 431 kph (269 mph).
  • Eating massive meals at Din Tai Fung, Crystal Jade and Jade Garden.
  • Going to the local favorite soup dumpling restaurant (Jia Jia Tang Bao) and then walking across the street to pick up fried soup dumplings (Yang’s Fried Dumplings). JJTB is not as pretty nor consistent as Din Tai Fung (1 or 2 leaks out of 12), but tasty and good value. They run out of the pork filling early, but we liked the crab and pork dumplings. Yang’s had stupidly good fried soup dumplings – crispy, gooey, chuy and soupy all in the same dumpling. The soup stayed hot even after our 10 minute walk back to the hotel.
  • Going to the Chinese circus. Mindblowing even if you’ve seen a Cirque du Soleil.
  • Showing Pete the Muji store. It’s like a Container Store with Japanese sensibilities.
  • Taking pictures on the glass floor of the Oriental Pearl Tower. It is somewhat unnerving, pretty impressed that Christine managed to get air for this photo: