Month: February 2012

Beijing Youjian – Behind the Great Firewall (1)

Although Western media has run a lot of stories about the “Great Firewall”, I’ve seen three main points that aren’t usually addressed:

  • How easy it is to get around the firewall
  • Content that Western interests block from being seen in China
  • Content that is available in China but not in the West

I’ll talk about the last bullet in this post.

My wife and I have started watching Grey’s Anatomy. We watch it by going to a site called youku.com, The episodes are posted pretty much when they are aired in the States, and have English and Chinese subtitles on them.

Here’s a screenshot:

Now, if I try to view the page with an IP Address outside of Mainland China (which I’ll probably talk more about in a later post), here’s what I get:

The wiki page I referenced about Youku talks a bit about why this might be occurring.

btw, I found the first entry of the Major investors in the History section of the Wikipedia page interesting.

Guns Don’t Kill People

Just to clarify… it’s actually bullets fired from guns that kill people. i mean, sure, you could pistol-whip someone to death, but it kinda defeats the purpose. I mean, a blunt object such as a hammer would probably be much more effective. Okay, so a bayonet on a rifle would, I guess, be an acceptable way of killing someone directly with a gun… just don’t see too much of this nowadays… I mean, people yelling “affix bayonets” before going into a convenience store to rob it.

Nope, it’s the bullets… definitely the bullets.

Beijing Youjian – Pork Chops and Cake

My birthday was yesterday. Turned 47. Yep, a snake. My wife’s parents are also snakes. If things go well, and we end-up having a child next year, our kid will also be a snake. My wife is concerned about this. She’s a dog. A dragon probably would’ve been better, because it could fend us off. Unfortunately, it looks like there’d be one of us for each of her four legs. Not a pretty prospect for a canine. Anyway, I’m thinking of signing-up the family for some snake-dog togetherness and harmony training classes if this does indeed happen. So it goes…

Anyway, we got together with a few friends last night and went to the Blue Frog bar & grill. Here are pictures of the two dishes I ate:

Now, if you’ve never been to Beijing before, and happened to read this rant by David Sedaris, I gotta say the above food just ain’t that atypical for Beijing. In fact, I’d be willing to bet someone from the West could come move here and never touch a piece of traditional Chinese cooking if they don’t want to do so (which,  btw, would be an absolute waste in my opinion).

I’ve never been impressed by Sedaris, and this piece kinda put the nail in the coffin. Definitely moved the guardian, which I used to goto a fair amount, down to the bottom of my reading list. Anyway, enough about this and the article for now… perhaps I’ll spend more time looking into it in another post.

Oh, one picture that is missing is the horribly overflowing frozen mango margarita that I had after my customary Rum and Cokes… was told by a friend that the drink didn’t fit my manly image. It was damn good, however.

Beijing Youjian – Dong Po Rou

On Sunday, Shanshan and I hosted her parents and five of her mother’s friends at our local Old Beijing Restaurant. It’s the same place in which we had our Beijing wedding ceremony (pictures here). Actually, we used one of the same rooms — the Wang Room — which is/was kinda cool since that is Shanshan’s last name. It’s not so unusual in the sense that there are a lot of Wang’s out there… Wang meaning emperor, and since there aren’t any emperors around anymore to object,  why the heck not?

The reason that we hosted them was because some of these friends had helped Shanshan’s mother find my nuts. Now, if you don’t know the context of this, well, sorry.

Shanshan’s mom can trace her lineage back at least six generations in Beijing. As I mentioned previously, she’s of Old Beijing Stock. One of her friends can trace his lineage in the city back 14 generations. Kinda wild to think about.

Two key things happen when old Beijing people get together:

  • They talk a lot about Old Beijing
  • The room sounds like it was invaded by a bunch of pirates… far worse than any “talk like a pirate day” you’ve ever heard. [see this for context]

One of the dishes we ate was Dong Po Rou, a variation of Hong Shao Rou, that is named after Su Dong Po.

Here’s a picture of it:

I’ve described Hong Shao Rou as my favorite dish for quite awhile. But, no more. I mean, this was fantastic and all, but I’ve just had way too much lately. And, this stuff ain’t good for a diet… no, not at all.

Anyway, the gathering was fantastic, and I look forward to meeting with folks again… feel very fortunate to have this type of exposure to the city’s history.

Beijing Youjian – Helmets and Kettle Corn

I walked down to the Third Ring Road to meet Shanshan when she came home from work last night. I brought along my D300 with an 85 mm.

I’ve been doing a lot of shooting with the 14 mm lately. However, I felt somewhat limited because I don’t like shooting flash and 2.8 can lead to really blurry shots.

The 85 mm, at 1.8, was just the ticket.

Here’s a shot of a couple on a scooter that I took whilst walking down to meet Shanshan:

And, here’s a shot of a kettle-corn vendor (cooking with gas) that  I took as we walked back to the apartment: