Archives for posts with tag: Daniel Jackson Levy

Here we are at the Beijing snack street!!! Get ready foodies….

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snack street entrance

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meat on a stick… pretty standard yummy stuff

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Baozi is a standard snack that you will find literally everywhere from restaurants to 7/11. I LOVE THEM ❤

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tiny duck

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not sure what this was, but it looked good

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kinda like a burger with gyro style rotisserie meat. They also serve them wrapped burrito style

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more baozi… drool

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grubbin for grubs? blech

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super yummy nut cake things

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scorpions on a skewer

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seahorse and starfish

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had to try it….

Here I go…. http://youtu.be/DYbIV6gtcME

About 15 million people currently reside in China’s fourth largest city. Tianjin, which hosted the water events of the 2008 Olympics Games, encompasses rapid growth on a massive scale. This city is massive, and jam-packed with a similar style build that I saw previously in China. But this city is very different from Beijing and Shanghai because it is not an ‘international city’.  Whereas the capital is home to many government consulates and foreign businesses, in Tianjin seeing a foreigner is a very rare sight. My time spent in Tianjin was extra special, because I got to spend time with Jakes chinese family.

When we arrived, we were picked up at the train station by our hosts and their family friends (who conveniently had a large minivan). We proceeded to get lunch! I was nervous because this would be the first time I got a full dose of eating a meal at a restaurant with China natives.  Going to a restaurant in China is incredibly different than in the US. Main differences: 1. No services with a smile b/s 2. You pay before you eat 3. Lack of cleanliness/everybody just throws their trash on the ground (which means you are sitting in a room filled with food, trash and cig. butts).  I was nervous at first, but once the food came I settled in.  The families didn’t know a word of english, so Jake had to translate everything for me. All of the dishes ordered were really good (except the fish) and I was pressured into eating massive amounts of food by the families… which i’m pretty sure is a cultural courtesy in China. Afterwords I enjoyed a moment of zen when I was told that I had exceptional chopstick skills for an American 😀

Our next stop was the Tianjin cultural street!IMAG0916They told us to wear our bags on our front to prevent theft.IMAG0911 We also ate these Tianjin special treats that were kinda like honey cake but with carmel. REALLY, REALLY YUMMY!IMAG0918IMAG0926 IMAG0924Another unique thing we saw was this guy blowing sculpture animals out of caramel, which I was told was a traditional/ lost art in the region…. you wouldn’t want to eat it though… because the guy had his dirty hands all over the recycled caramel. This girl thought it was pretty cool… I thought it was kinda gross.IMAG0920 We went into a mall to take some pictures. Homeboy on the right was really prepared with a camera tripod and timer set on the camera (standard chinese tradition :P)581255_10151478027756469_2129091530_nThey took us to see the newly constructed historical museums. This whole segment of town was built within just one year (5 massive buildings and a lake).IMAG0948 and we took more pictures infront of this crazy color-changing building.225306_10151478027966469_1549518287_nBefore going to dinner we saw this crazy wedding cake shop that had super-luxury cakes. China is filled with lots of luxury goods, so why not have super luxury wedding cakes? …amirite? IMAG0939 Thats about 1/2 mil USDIMAG0938 IMAG0936Eventually we went to dinner where we again consumed massive amounts of food and then headed back to the train station. From there I got my last glimpse of this amazing city. This is a view of their ‘little italy’, a section of town that was developed under imperial ruling of Italy. IMAG0949 Tianjin is an amazing place to see. Its doesn’t quite fit into the same categories as Beijing or Shanghai because it not a touristy kind of place, but its packed full of huge city and industrial development. Also, I would advise against eating the fish… it kinda tastes like polluted water.

Roughly 1k away from the bund is the yuyuan market which coincidentally has lots of people.

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Among many of the shops, I was most interested with this medicine shop. It contained jars full of dried roots, herbs & spices, mushrooms, teas, and other assorted powders and weird icky looking stuff. Customers would consult the herbalists behind the counter to weigh out and sometimes grind up their medicine.
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I finally found out where the royal jelly gets made.

Ha, jk. Its actually a really bad fake.

fake mini cooper fake mini cooper fake mini cooper fake mini cooper

IMAG0689Shanghai has a very unique set of architectural styles that define its history and cultural heritage. The Huangpu river splits the city into two sections. On one side sits a newly revitalized financial district and on the other, imperialist era European style buildings. During my visit in Shanghai I stayed on the bund which is surrounded by fantastic neoclassical and art deco architecture from the 20th century.IMAG0703IMAG0744IMAG0692Crossing over from one side to the other requires a ferry ride or you can take an exhilarating ride through a light tunnel. IMAG0739 IMAG0761IMAG0756

 

Nanluoguxiang (Nlgx), Beijing- The hutong style represents the architectural heritage of old Beijing. These neighborhoods are formed by siheyuan (house clusters) along narrow streets and alleys. As new Beijing overtakes the old, these style neighborhoods have been in decline from zoning demolition.

photo from google

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A destroyed hutong neighborhood.

The Gulou district is home to the Nanluoguxiang Hutong, built in the Yuan dynasty (~1750). This street has brought a revitalizing urban twist to the hutong style. These old Beijing homes are rehabilitated and used as trendy clothing stores, bars, art galleries and micro-restaurants. IMAG0658

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storefronts at NLGX

The Nlgx design co. has iconized the characters used to mark areas of demolition by embracing a converse message. The DO NOT DESTROY markings has become a famed logo of opposition.

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“Destroy”

Most of the goods sold at the Nanlauguxiang street were original clothing apparel but I also found some fun counterfeit TOMS shoes. IMAG0654

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Here are some original carvings for this temple from ~1400a.d.

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A long day of travel was followed by a hard night of sleep with minimal interference from fireworks being set off in the street.

First stop for the new year is a festival in the park! The volume of people that fill the streets is really overwhelming at first. You have to be really good at weaving in and out of people or otherwise accept that you will be pushed around in every direction. Don’t worry about knocking into people and don’t stop moving.

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This festival is a place for families to go with their kids to play games and eat street food.The meat on a stick was quite popular.

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So I have arrived, gone through customs, and exited the terminal to the main pickup area.IMAG04854:00pm: I’ve been here for about 30 min and I have noticed something. There are several other American white dudes who are aimlessly walking around with the same helpless expression on their face. I am not sure if Jake knows where I am or if I have arrived so I need to figure out how to contact him. I have a phone but no Chinese SIM card to make calls with. There are pay-phones here that say ‘free local calls’ but they totally did not work when I tried them.  I am too stubborn to be like all the other Americans here and ask random people for help. My plan for now is to sit down for a while and relax.

4:20pm: A lanky young white guy approached me and in a polite New Zealand accent asked me if I could do him a big favor. I was initially confused and was prepared to instinctively decline helping any random person, but then I remembered I was not in Chicago and he was not a pan-handler. As I stood up to speak with him I realized he was in a t-shirt and shivering. He told me that his luggage was lost in Shanghai and he ”had no jumper”… and he wondered if he could buy a sweatshirt off of me! I briefly thought about it, took off the sweatshirt I was wearing and handed it to him. He handed me 100 Yuan. I took the friendly opportunity to ask him for assistance in making a call. He handed me a SIM card and explained a few things about making local calls. After my call I thanked him, wished him luck, and we went separate ways.

4:40pm: MY CHINESE CONNECTION GREETS ME WITH THIS SIGNIMAG0486

Departure from ohare

So I’ve been on the plane for roughly 12 hours now and the plane is on its decent to arrival. Beijing from an aerial view looks nothing like any US city i’ve ever seen. All of the rooftops are mostly blue and red, and it lacks the square tiled look that is typical of most midwest plane views. Also, I would like to note that flying to Asia in economy class is no problem because you don’t have to worry getting stuck next to some fat white guy who smells like body odor.

So here is the plan: My friend Jake lives in Beijing and is planning on picking my up from the international terminal so I don’t get lost. When I land it will be 3:30pm on the day of the Spring Festival… for those of you who may not know, it is the biggest holiday in China.