Friday, June 5, 2009

May 23 - 26: Beijing

Having local friends makes a world of difference when visiting large cities. In Beijing, we were blessed with Peikwen and Shanti as amazing hosts. They took us on a culinary tour of the city - from soup dumplings to fried lemon leaves to peking duck. After our pathetic efforts to order food in this country (often by marching into the kitchen and pointing at ingredients) it was a real treat to have fluent Mandarin speaking foodies in control of our cuisine for 3 days.
A highlight of our visit was attending China's first ever electronic music festival held in the 798 Art District. Home to a thriving new art community, the space is set among 50-year old decomissioned military factory buildings. Incredible art and young Chinese hipsters created an atmosphere more cutting edge than most anything we've seen all year.
The music festival, set admist the factory piping lit up as the sun went down, was super fun (perhaps thanks in part to the LARGE mojitos being served) with top notch DJs. Around 11 PM however, hip China on the brink was put back in check as the festival - which was meant to continue all night - was shut down for "security reasons". Nothing seemed out of control in the slightest and even the guards who were marched in to stave off any possible riots where caught snapping pictures of the momentus event. But for reasons unknown and likely unwarranted, everyone was sent home. So close to what it's about to become but not quite there yet...
Aside from eating and partying with Peikwen and Shanti, we did also manage to sneak in the big sites. Scared off by the crowds during our visit to the Forbidden City, we opted for an ultra adventurous day on The Great Wall, following a random tip we found on where to trek a truly unrestored and untrafficked secton of the wall. Our journey featured 5 hours of intense climbing -- some of it over sections that really required technical gear of which we had none. But the views were insanely beautiful and we saw not a single other hiker during our entire journey.... So it was well worth it.

1 comment:

  1. wow. you guys are bunch of bastards! and i mean that in the best possible way!

    on another note - thank you so much for the wonderful wedding gift! how cool to receive such an exotic package. they are beautiful, but where do we send the thank you note?