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Beijing 2008: The Miraculous Disappearing Smog? Let the Games Begin!

Beijing Travel Blog

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Fried Mandarin Fish in Sweet and Sour Sauce @ Xiao Wang Fu
Monday morning at 10am.  It was a different feeling not waking up to my alarm and taking the hellish hour bus/cab ride to the office on the southwest fourth ring road.  However, today wasn't about the end of my job but the beginning of my trip!  I had it all figured out about how my trip through China and Southeast Asia was going to be.  Somehow sneak through to Tibet from Sichuan with some help from my distant relatives and get scuba certified.  Like all good plans, this one was never going to work but I won't get into that in this entry.  Besides the first two days in Beijing, I never really allowed myself to be a visitor in this historical capital.  I mean sure I went out to Houhai lake district and Wangfujing shopping street but to see the city at a breakneck speed as if I only had 3 days was a thrill that I would love to embark on.  See my remarks about plans a few sentences back.  If you want to know more about the historical sites and the top tourist attractions in Beijing then you have clicked on the wrong entry my friend.  But, if you want to know more about a foreigner would do given free reign and some knowledge of the city.  Then read on.

Hatsune was a sushi place in Beijing that I have always wanted to go to for lunch.  I am a real penny pincher and didn't want to fork over double the prices for dinner.  I walked the three blocks from my apartment to the World Trace Center and found Hatsune on Guanghua Dong Lu.  The food was so-so in retrospect but not having sushi in over a year made it really good.  The lunch price was decent and the decor was Japanese minimalistic. 

Afterwards, I took the new line 10 subway and a taxi ride to one of my favorite places in Beijing.  The Houhai Lake District and the surrounding Drum and Bell Tower area.  And then there is the always trendy Nanluoguxiang.  This is where I decided to spend the day before dinner and the Opening Ceremony Party at my friend's place.  The lake district is a tourist trap mostly but this is also where the upcoming middle class Chinese start to hang out.  It has some trendy bars and restaurants that are decently priced.  On Nanluoguxiang there are some neat boutique stores selling graphic tees and some unconventional kitsch.  It might be more expensive than the bargaining hell that is Silk Street Market but at least it won't be the stuff everybody else is buying.  This is where I bought my presents for home. 

Before eight o'clock and the start of the opening ceremony my friends and I went to Xiao Wang Fu for dinner.  It's a small little restaurant by the Kerry Center.  It's overpriced but the quality is somewhat better than your normal street-corner restaurant and it was somewhere familiar to end my day of walking and shopping.  I had a fun time watching one of my friends past out at the party and making fun of the Beijing Olympic Commitee and the awful smog that permeated the first day of the Olympics.  I predicted someone's head was going to roll, but maybe I spoke too soon.  There always is a next day.
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Fried Mandarin Fish in Sweet and S…
Fried Mandarin Fish in Sweet and …
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photo by: Deats