Saturday, April 5, 2014

beijing de gushi: day five.

so here we are, almost at the end of our beijing de gushi ("beijing story"), at least the blogging about it part!...which in turn begs the question of if ben & i go on a trip & don't blog about it.......does it actually happen?? & it's only taken me about a week to catch up after being so behind on blogging because i couldn't access my [rebellious] blog in !

so by the last day of our trip, we had done almost everything we wanted to do in 北 京 (there was, i mean is, much more we want to do in china, but we just didn't have enough time to 
travel to those places...china is kind of huge, but you knew that already, didn't you?) but all week we kept 
talking about those amazing massages we got earlier in the week, & we had some extra yuan we wanted to
spend (ben is deeply, deeply distrustful of the money changers in the airports--he claims they rip you off--
so changing foreign money back to 'murica dollars is almost universally out of the question in his mind,
which is just, for those of you who know him personally, SOOOOOO "ben frandsen," isn't it??), so we 
decided to hit up the spa a few blocks down from our hotel. BEST DECISION EVER.

first we did a 50 minute full body massage, & they had us change into these delightful outfits which 
prompted ben to say he felt like "a chinese prince." i was of the opinion that we looked like pharrell at 
the academy awards. either way is pretty great:

so it was more of that exquisite pain where they dug their elbows into our backs, pushed & pulled & smacked so hard that you want to just scream in pain. right when you feel like you can't take any more, & you're just about to scream & beg them to stop or else you're pretty sure you won't be able to bear children, lift a backpack, or even walk away from the massage table, they move on to another place on your body, & that area that was causing you such pain is kind of floating in the heavens & feels amazing...& then a minute later it all starts all over again. it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

after that massage, we opted for an 80-minute foot massage at the same place. now, imagine all the pain & turmoil & agony of the above description, but now it's allllll localized in one small, small area of your body. that was the foot massage...& yet they left our feet feeling amazeballs. YOU WIN, CHINESE MASSAGE, YOU ALWAYS DO (why our beijing trip has prompted so many will ferrell as bobby goulet on snl quotes i'll never know, but there it is).

almost asleep:

after this pain & this joy, this sorrow & this salvation, we headed back to bellagio, that taiwanese restaurant that we went to on day two, because man. it's hard to not crave that deliciousness (& speaking of taiwan, i came across this completely accurate buzzfeed article yesterday that describes some of the hilarities, idiosyncrasies, & endearingly maddening qualities of taiwan in a pretty funny way):

a toast with this good sir:

first up were these fried noodles. there's like a special kind of powder/sauce that they sprinkle on fried noodles & fried rice that gives it that distinct taiwanese flavor. i don't know what it is, i never knew what it was called, but it's a taste i loved:

next up was this spicy beef noodle soup that we ordered & split for a second time, because we couldn't not. oh beef noodle soup, i wish i knew how to quit you!...not really. we would never do that to you:

& our third dish was some fried rice, which we also ordered for a second time. you guys, i'm a little embarrassed, but as you can see we ate a lot on this trip. three dishes for two people?! we definitely walked home feeling, uh, full:

giving each other a high kuai after downing pretty much everything (the chinese word for "chopstick" is "kuaizi," with kind of an emphasis on the word kuai, hence the "high kuai" because it rhymes too perfectly. i invite you to start giving high kuais when you eat with chopsticks, it's a great feeling):

okay, SO. then for dessert we ordered bingsha (it has a few different names), which is such a taiwanese dessert, i've never seen it served anywhere else. so it's a mound of shaved ice with a bunch of different flavors on top. i wanted ben to have a true bingsha experience, so we ordered ours topped with condensed milk, red beans, & green beans (& a few candied mangos). when i was a new missionary craving chocolate & sweets with which i would eat my feelings of stress, i would almost burst into tears of sadness every time i was served beans for dessert. even though i'd eat it, later i'd vent to whichever poor soul was my companion at the time, "beans are NOT a dessert!" but, as with lots of things one experiences on a mission, i first grudgingly recognized the unavoidability of beans, then got used to them, then grew to really love them, & now that i'm home i miss them & every time i think about beans-as-dessert i'm filled with nostalgia & start humming, like, this song & whatnot. so i was excited for ben to try one of my quintessential TW-ese experiences. it looks kind of nasty, though, right? like an anthill, almost?

but you know what? it ends up being good. definitely a different flavor than a typical american has ever had before...the beans are, yes, like beans, but kind of surgary, if that makes sense? & condensed milk is always kind of a unique eating experience, in my opinion. it's interesting. but ben really liked the bingsha, so i feel success in my heart. oh. & see those purple little pearls at the bottom of the anthill in the picture below? those are called taro. it's kind of a potato-y type taste, a little sweet, & yes, they are purple. & those shiny black guys kind of in the back of the bingsha, under that spork-like spoon (& better seen in the photo above), are little tapioca pearls one would typically have in a bubble tea drink. so. lots of new experiences for our german/austrian benny boy that night. :)

we tend to hit the pavement really hard on these trips of ours so that by the time we return home, we almost need a vacation from our vacation. but it was good to take it a little easier on this last day so that we didn't come home completely exhausted. we were able to get right back into work & school on monday without too much problem (minus some kinda wonky jet lag for ben...luckily i wasn't in china long enough to fully adjust to the twelve-hour sleep difference so it wasn't too bad for me back in nyc, but after two weeks ben had a few tired days at school, poor guy. he's better now :)

so! wanna go get some shaved ice with beans & purple potato on top with us some time? :)

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