Monday, May 16, 2011

Tea in Asia: Day 12 - Last Morning in Asia

Our last morning in Asia was depressing. Breakfast didn't help much. Since we flew back to Hong Kong before their breakfast buffet opened, the hotel packed us some breakfast. How thoughtful of them…

The lovely LD displayed some of the contents that were in each plastic container. We were given a boiled egg and a stale sandwich of ham. Lovely...

They also packed each container with a stale BBQ pork bun and two almond cookies. Oh, I remember that they give us a tangerine as well. Breakfast was quite humbling.

To be more harsh, our last meal in Beijing was a great representation of our stay in China. I felt really unwelcome and I felt ripped off. Instead of giving us more time on the Great Wall of China or ordering meals with better food, they tried to get us to spend money at tourist trap markets, and they ordered us a meal with sliced ham and french fries. But as my mom reminded me, "What do you expect when you go on a tour in China?"


I don’t know how to end the series of articles: Tea in Asia 2010. With the help of this blog and the photos I took, I’ll never forget about my trip to Taiwan, Beijing, and the airport of Hong Kong. I’ll never forget how comfortable I felt while biking in the streets of Cijin District. I definitely won’t forget about the Great Wall of China either.

I have many regrets about the trip, but I am so glad that I went. Despite what others might say, the trip was well worth it. Thank you to Humber College, CY, DA, DG, and PI for organizing the trip. Thank you to all the guides we had during our whole trip. Thank you to the former Kaohsiung Hospitality College for being such amazing hosts when we were in Taiwan.

(Music starts playing)

Thank you to everyone that went on the trip who made the trip so enjoyable. And finally, I want to thank my mom!

(Exit stage right… err… left.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tea in Asia: Day 11 - Beijing, China

The last two days – if you can even call it that – of my trip to Asia went by pretty quickly...

In the morning, I went back to the first pearl market with CPR and AB. I was unlucky and ended up in the passenger’s seat of the taxi. That was not fun. I swear I had three heart attacks! I didn’t mention the traffic in Taiwan before, but all the drivers were crazy! You know the paint that outlines the lanes in the streets? And you know how you’re supposed to drive within the lanes, unless you’re changing lanes? Well, I swear the lanes were non-existent. People were driving however they felt like.

We got to and from the pearl market without getting into an accident. I almost felt like kissing the sidewalk once we got back to the hotel. But I didn’t. Instead, I kissed my lunch goodbye. And no, I didn’t puke. What I meant was that we ended up having our late lunch at the hotel. These were our drinks: ginger ale, Sprite, and Coke. The picture reminds me of the Power Rangers when they beam to or from Zordon’s layer.

Anyway, the menu was all North American style bar food. I wasn’t hungry at all, so I ordered a pizza. I figured, hey, I’ll just have a nibble and then finish the pizza afterwards. The pizza tasted just as good as it looks – meaning it tasted like a plastic flavourless disk.

I’m pretty sure CPR and AB both got a burger (one was a chicken burger).

I killed the rest of the afternoon with a few people before dinner came around. Some people wanted to go out and find dinner again, but then it was decided that we’d have dinner in the empty hotel restaurant.

That wasn’t the only bad sign. Check out my fork (left) and DG’s. Wowzers! DG’s fork looked like a mini pitchfork.

Onto the dishes… stir fried shrimp and broccoli.

The hot and sour chicken and peanuts was really good!

Stir fried pork and bamboo shoots.

This was supposed to be braised daikon with beef, but I guess there was a mistranslation on the menu. The soup and soft daikon were really comforting. I wish there was more.

Because dumplings were easy to eat and please, we got two orders of boiled dumplings.

I just want to tell you all that I had nothing to do with the following two dishes…

Almond chicken with an orange sauce…

And finally, the last dish of the night, fried rice.

We finished eating dinner and then headed up to bed. Since it was the last night in Asia, I reflected on how much I saw and did over the course of a week and a half. I wish I had more energy and wasn't bogged down by feeling sick. I really wasted my last day in Beijing. In hindsight, I should've went to the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and hung out with everyone in Beijing more. Maybe it was for the best that I conserved my energy.

Read about the best breakfast I had in Asia. Okay, it was really sad.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tea in Asia: Day 10 - Beijing, China

The tenth day of my trip to Asia was filled with more touristy activities.

We began the day with a humbling visit to the Lama Temple. But while walking around, I noticed a few signs around the grounds that were pretty amusing.

Exhibit A: You’d probably think that this was the smoking area of the temple, but no, the smoke weren’t coming from cigarettes. They were actually from all the incense being burned.

Exhibit B: That guy threw a coin behind the “do not throw incenses or coins” sign. The guy beside him was looking for a coin to throw. Tsk tsk tsk…

Anyway, we took a rickshaw tour of the hutong after we left the Lama Temple. Just like the day before, there were hawkers – but on bikes! It was crazy!

We stopped at a really old house to have lunch. Everything was obviously homemade. It wasn’t anything too fancy, but it was still good. We started with a plate of deep fried wonton-like skins.

There was a small plate of pickled cabbage and carrots.

Slices of fresh tomatoes with a sprinkling of salt.

Toasted and salted peanuts.

There were meatballs in oyster sauce.

Stir fried onions.

Stir fried bamboo, cabbage and carrots.

And since our group arrived a bit earlier than they had anticipated, the ladies quickly held a small dumpling making class. It was a great idea! Here’s one of the ladies rolling the small pieces of dough.

This was the bowl of the veggie filling (chives, cabbage, a bit of onions and sesame oil).

She taught everyone the super quick way of making the dumplings. After she rolled out the small balls of dough, she added a bit of the filling and closed the dumplings by squishing the edges. I don’t know how to explain it.

This picture was taken at the jade market the previous day, but they looked the same as the ones we made for lunch. You can see how she just squished the dumpling edges.

After lunch and the tour of the hutongs, we began to walk towards our bus when it began to snow. It was the weirdest feeling ever, because it was hot and humid, yet it looked like it was snowing all around us.

It felt like we were caught in the middle of a blizzard. Our guide told us that it was some cotton seeds.

We got onto the bus and then visited the Temple of Heaven. Afterwards, we hopped back on the bus and went to enjoy our Peking duck dinner at the well-known restaurant called Quan Ju De.

There were a few appetizers, like this plate of pickled veggies.

This was a plate of lightly stir-fried parboiled walnuts. I was amazed at how good this tasted. The slightly salted nuts had a smokiness flavour from the scorching hot wok and the walnuts weren’t mushy either. They still had a bit of a bite to them. Nom nom nom!

I can’t remember what this plate was, but it looks like an egg stuffed duck. I don’t know.

These super healthy red dates were pretty good.

Sweet and sour pork. Bleh…

Duck with bamboo and beans.

Shrimp chips with duck.

Stir fried pork with oyster sauce.

Deep fried fish with a sweet and sour sauce.

And for the main event… Peking duck and the accompaniments: flour pancakes, sesame seed topped buns, green onions, and, hoisin sauce). I ate way too much and I didn’t drink enough tea. My parents always told us that tea helps break down the grease we eat (like during dim sum).

The chef sliced 2 or 3 plates of skin, with another plate of meat.

We had so much food! Everything was packed to go. I ended up eating another wrap for a late night snack. Yum!

Our dessert, like most of the desserts we were given on our trip to China, was a plate of fruits. We got grapes, cantaloupe, and watermelon this time.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I definitely waddled back to the bus after dinner.

Read about my last full day in Beijing here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tea in Asia: Day 9 - Beijing, China

One year ago today, I went up to the Great Wall of China during my trip to Asia. I don't think it has sunken in yet. I still can't believe it!

We left our hotel after another mediocre breakfast at the hotel and saw this crazy guy. I can’t believe this guy was going to drive that toy on the Beijing’s roads. He must’ve had a death wish.

It took us about two hours to get to the base of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, located in the Huairou County near Beijing. As we drove two hours, our tour guide explained that the Mutianyu section is one of the best preserved sections of the Great Wall of China. We got off the bus and then hiked up the steep path and hopped into the cable cars. It was a pretty good work out. My quads were burning before we reached the top.

From the parking lot, the guide told us that we only had three hours to walk around. We only had about an hour to enjoy the sights before we had to make our way back down to the bus. It wasn’t enough time to take it all in. I could’ve spent a whole day there.

The weather was beautiful when we got up. A cooling breeze greeted us as we reached the Great Wall of China. The photo really shows how humid the weather was.


After a short visit to the Great Wall of China, we slowly walked down through the tourist-shop-lined road back to the parking lot. We wasted close to an hour by standing around, waiting for people to finish shopping their way down the road. It was ridiculous! The rest of us could've spent that time up on the Wall. You can imagine how ticked off I was. What made my blood boil was that our guide was rushing us to go to our next destination, which turned out to be a jade market (another tourist-trap btw). Why? I don’t know.

We had a late lunch at the restaurant beside the jade market. It was a very disappointing meal, and you’ll see why. This was a head cheese made with beef.

Slices of ham…

The plate of bok choi was okay.

This was a slaw made of nappa cabbage.

There was a plate of dumplings.

This was my favourite dish of the meal. It was hot and spicy eggplants with peppers and pork. The sauce was so tasty with rice.

A small plate of battered and deep fried shrimps with a spicy salt.

And how could you have Chinese food without…

No, not egg rolls… but you’re close…

Nope… not chicken balls.

I’ll just tell you, cause you’d probably never guess the final dish.

French fries. Mhmm… this was the uh... Chinese food that I was craving…

We spent about two hours at the jade market after lunch. We finally boarded the bus and headed to the Ming Tombs. I was expecting to see the terracotta warriors here for some odd reason. So fail. I guess I needed to clear my head some more. After the Ming Tombs, we were dropped off at a silk market.

I had to sit outside and clear my head. We were forced to waste more time at another tourist trap. Across the shady market, there was this funny sign on the wall of a shopping mall. Really? Come on!

That night, a bunch of our group headed out for dinner again after we got from the Ming Tombs. I didn’t take any pictures, but I remember that the restaurant offered to serve us dog. We politely declined. After dinner, we walked back to the hotel where I passed out for the night.

Read about our Peking duck dinner we had the next day.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...