Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

Catching up in Beijing.

Monday (July 25th) was the first day of Michael’s classes and the symposium was opened with a typical ceremony.  There were announcement posters…..IMG_6912

…..a head table……




and MUCH clapping!!!

I was concerned about taking photos, worried that I would be interrupting the proceedings but I needn’t have worried.   There were three or four individuals standing at the front taking photos thru the entire ceremony!!

We then moved outside for the group photo……IMG_6910

…which I was pulled into at the last moment!!

The rest of Michael’s day was spent teaching and meeting with students and faculty while I spent time in our room, working on accounting deadlines.

I did take a bit of time out to visit the local grocery store and had fun looking at all of the different items.  I am always impressed with the variety of goods that are available.   Here is the toothpaste aisle…..


….and here is ONE of the Soy sauce aisles…..


And, of course, I had to visit the snack aisle to bring a few things back to the room.  I did, however, abstain from the pickled chicken feet…..


Speaking of snacks, there is one item already in our room that we did NOT try…..


When I walked out of the store, I realized that there was a fountain built into the courtyard area and I loved watching this little girl play in the water…..


There were a series of signs and paintings on one of the outside walls and I really liked the sentiment displayed there…..

“Take time to think;  it is the source of your power.

Take time to play; it is the secret of your youth.

Take time to rea; it is the foundation of your knowledge.

Take time to dream; it will take you to the stars.

Take time to laugh; it really is your best medicine.

Take time to exercise;  it will give you energy and health.

Take time to reach out to others;  it will give your life significance and meaning.”


That evening, there was yet another banquet with way too much food.  This Beef and Onions was one of my favorites…..


..  as was the Peking Duck which is used to make a little “taco” with a sweet soy sauce, thin sliced onions and lemon grass…..


The company was enjoyable…..


…and there were rampant rounds of toasting that would break out spontaneously during the meal…..


Culturally, each person at the table is supposed to toast every other diner before the evening is over.  If they are close enough, they clink glasses, but if they are sitting on opposite sides of the table, they tap their glass on the table and then drink.  Then, there are several “full table” toasts where one person toasts everyone there.

On Tuesday, I worked more and Michael taught his class…..


As usual, he is doing a great job of encouraging the students to interact and ask questions.   One of the professors said that the students are really enjoying it because Michael doesn’t berate them if they answer incorrectly, but instead tries to help them re-think the question!!

Tuesday afternoon we were given a tour of the Natural History museum associated with the Beijing Forestry University.  It was interesting to see all of the animals, although I finally got bored and started looking for the “weird” ones…..  like the “crazy cow” look on this one…..


…or the schnozz on this poor guy….


The butterfly display was very well done……


….and Michael posed with a King Cobra…the snake that he hopes to see when we are in India…..


I felt like I identified with this little guy……


….not sure if it is look in the eye, the big nose or the Bad Hair Day!!!

While leaving the campus, we passed this interesting architecture…..


Since it is located on a Forestry University, I am assuming that it is supposed to be reminiscent of a tree.’’

Wednesday continued in the same vein with work for both us of, but that evening we decided to take a drive into the heart of Beijing and have dinner at one of the Ritz Calton Hotels.  We started the evening in the “Crystal Lounge”, enjoying drinks……


and music performed by a beautiful young woman on a Chinese Sitar…..

Video here


I was interested to watch her and noticed that the little finger on her right hand is permanently bowed backwards…DSC08087

….obviously the result of the pressure used to play the instrument.  It makes me wonder how many hundreds of hours she has practiced in her short life.

We ended up having dinner in the Italian Restaurant associated with the hotel and it was a wonderful meal.

It started with bread and sauces to dip in, followed by an Amuse-bouche described as a Lobster Ball with Mozarella Foam and tiny scrapings of Truffle…..


We were wondering where the salt and pepper were and realized that this strange decoration was on our table……


….and it ended up being the salt and pepper shaker……


Our table was also adorned with two bottles of specialty water….these being  Patagonian Rain Water…..


Not long ago I had seen an article about these specialty waters and found out that they are often more expensive than the wine!!   Needless to say, we were VERY careful to not break the seal.

My meal consisted of a mixed green salad…..


….and a simple pasta with a Bolognese sauce…..


The presentation of this dish was wonderful as the wide, home-made noodles were wrapped around each other in the center of the bowl with a few scattered on the top.   It had an excellent flavor, and according to our waiter from Rome, it was better than his Mama could make!!”.

Michael chose the roasted Lamb which was served on a platter with various mixed vegies……


The green stuff is actually sea sponge which interestingly had a bread flavor and texture to it.

The star of the evening was Michael’s tiramisu……


All in all, we had a very enjoyable meal…..


After dinner, Michael had hoped to find a place to smoke a cigar and had thought that there was a lounge in the hotel.  They said no, but that there was one at the Westin hotel, located about two blocks away.  When we started out the door, we found that it was pouring rain so they offered us two umbrellas and sent us on our way.  We arrived at the Westin to find out that they sold cigars but that it was illegal to smoke inside a building in Beijing so we were out of luck.

We tried to catch a cab from the Westin but they weren’t particularly helpful so we traipsed back thru the rain to the Ritz.   By now we were completely soaked!!!  The concierge at the Ritz started trying to get us a taxi using an “Uber-type” of call service.  He suggested that, because of the rain, we agree to add an additional 10 Yuan ($1.50)to the bill and we said ok.   We waited for about 10 minutes and he came back and said that, since no one was responding to the call, he suggested that we add even more incentive….20 Yuan more this time.   Well, that did the trick because we were soon in a taxi and winding our wet way back to our hotel.

2 thoughts on “Catching up in Beijing.

  1. Definitely lots to learn in different countries. Offering and incentive first for a cab rather than tipping for good service is an interesting one.

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