A few early impressions on Beijing:
– As a New Yorker I am a strong believer in mass transit, and have much pride in the NYC subway system. To my great dismay, Beijing’s subway puts any system I’ve ever seen to shame. We have yet to wait more than 3 minutes for a train, it’s super fast and clean, there are easy to understand Mandarin and English signs and audio recordings everywhere, and a one way trip anywhere in the city is only 2 yuan (~30 US cents).
– Exercise playgrounds are awesome! Walking around town one morning we discovered a playground for grown-ups filled with swinging, hanging, and otherwise fun-looking apparatus. Maybe the novelty would wear off over time, but these sure seem more entertaining than a gym to me. (photo 1 below)
– We’re definitely loving the food in this country. Cheap and delicious street food is available on every block, and the recent addition of “ji-guh” (“that,” accompanied by a pointed finger) to our small but growing Mandarin vocabulary greatly improves our food-purchasing abilities. Highlights thus far include hot pot and a fried pancake stuffed with pork, leeks, and Szechuan numbing pepper (photos 2 and 3 below).
– A second note on food: cold sesame noodles are actually Chinese! I had always assumed they were an American invention as most I’ve had in the states just taste like peanut butter on spaghetti, but we ordered noodles at a local place for dinner tonight (see “ji-guh”, above) and although they were not as sweet and a little more spiced than the ones in the US, they’re unmistakably the same dish (photo 4).
– Public toilets are a worthwhile public service. They’re all over the place here, and we greatly appreciate them. I think it would be a great second-term issue for Obama.
P.S. We’re having some technical difficulties writing posts and reading the blog ourselves right now. We’re not sure if it is due to Chinese Internet restrictions, or just a plain old slow connection at our hotel. Our sincerest apologies for any issues with formatting or photos below.