Friday, April 4, 2014

beijing de gushi: day four.

ah, day four of our beijing de gushi (our "beijing story"). after three days of nonstop walking & always on the move, & arriving late at home the night before sweaty & exhausted after climbing the great wall all day, we decided to take it niiiiiice & easy. after sleeping in a bit we then made our way out for the day. 

first we visited the summer palace. the day was a little overcast & gray, but that didn't keep us from enjoying how beautiful everything was. the summer palace is surrounded by lush forests, stone paths, gazebos, marble walkways, temples, & lots of natural beauty - you can see some of that in the background of this photo. when it's warm out you can take little paddle boats out on the lake:

we passed this stone structure by the lake that created a little square in the middle that was maybe even too perfect & photogenic. after taking this picture, ben said, "i knew you would want to take a picture of that." :)

we sat by kunming lake for quite a while, right ion the edge of the rocks, & had a little bit to eat. whenever i'm at one of these ultra-historical, ultra-meaningful foreign sites i close my eyes & rewind hundreds of years, imagining that i'm there at the site when it was at its height of usefulness - when it was used what it was actually built for, i mean. so for a while there i transported myself to the qing dynasty, just imagining...must be from all that YA historical fiction i read & loved as a teenager. 

but after all that i snapped back up & says to ben, i says to him, "dahling, you simply must join me at my next summer palace yoga treat, it's simply diviiiiinnne."

more views of the lake (plus a certain ocean-eyed physicist):

& another view from the bridge we walked over:

after taking the photo above, ben was like, "wait, okay, take one more." & then he busted out this great face, with no explanation, out of nowhere. always surprising, that one! very blue steel:

after the summer palace we took the subway over to the olympic green, to check out some of the stadiums where the olympics were in 2008. we saw the bird's nest, which we agreed is totally an awesome architectural feat. our picture below isn't that cool - these sorts of photos make it look cooler.

as you can see, the olympic green is huge. look how far down it goes! it was okay. this large walkway in the picture below had all these noisy, colorful  booths set up selling all sorts of olympic- & china-related trinkets. it all felt quite taken over by that. it was cool to see the bird's nest & aquatics center (or "water cube," which we somehow managed not to get a photo of?!), but everything else was pretty overwhelming, so we did a ten-minute walk-through & called it good (you can't even really get that close to the stadiums - the photo above shows people behind me, that's about as close as you could get). but it was all still good to see: 

that night was another one of those perfect travel experiences. we went out for hot pot! (which consists of a boiling pot of water in the middle of the table that everyone dips their raw meat, noodles, veggies, tofu, & anything else they might have ordered into. it's so fun. you get to cook your own stuff, & everyone shares the one pot so it feels really communal!) & had the best time. hot pot is so, so yummy (i had it several times on my mission, but have only had it once in the four years since! i've been missing it. it was a good, good reunion :) we went to this place that ben had eaten at the week before (ben went to china for a week-long conference, & then i joined him the week after), & one of his chinese friends told him this chain of hot pot restaurants is known for their hospitality. & they were totally right! we will be talking about this hot pot meal for years to come...maybe even in heaven? do they eat hot pot in heaven? [i'm leaning towards YES.]

there's our pot in the background: the left, redder side was the spicy side, the right white-y was tamer: 

look at all this beautiful, beautiful meat. on that first plate, the one most in-focus, you can't quite tell but the beef was in the shape of a heart. ha! we laughed thinking that maybe our servers were thinking there was no way only two people could finish all the food we ordered. but we PROVED THEM WRONG. we proved them ALL wrong!! [insert maniacal laughter here]

& some more of the food we got. noodles, veggies, quail eggs (that were so little & cute!):

in their super-helpfulness, the waiters even put our little eating aprons on for us. they were pretty priceless, as you can see:

a shot of the table towards the end of our feast. they had an entire little station with all sorts of sauces that you could mix together to dip your food in. you can see the remnants of mine (i went with mushroom sauce & sesame oil) in that white bowl with the big spoon in it:

i'll end with this hilarious moment when ben was over at the dipping sauce station (which was right next to our table, yesssssss [<<<< say that "yessssss" in your head like how he says it here]) & he was the ONLY one wearing the aprons they gave us! no one else was. the little blue ruffles on the edge make it all even better:

we went home full & so so happy. a good day. zai jian!

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