Monday, April 22, 2013

Samba on the Simatai

A recent weekend featured the visit of a good old friend from D.C. To celebrate, we packed up our things and for one night stayed at our favorite place under the sun (and on the Wall): the Dongpo Restaurant (also called Simatai Guesthouse).

There's not a big story to tell really; just some fun pictures to share...  We love this hike because you can be all by yourself on the Wall for a couple of hours. Really peaceful, beautiful, and fun!

Friday night with great food at the Dongpo restaurant. Mr. Liu is really a good cook.

The restaurant and inn is a little courtyard hotel. Behind the red lanterns are the restaurant and about 7 or 8 small rooms all around the courtyard.

The boys approved of the sleeping quarters. (The electric blanket helped...) It's getting Spring in Beijing but it's still pretty chilly.

A great view just before sunrise.

Around 6 am (!) we set out on our hike across the Simatai Great Wall. The bridge in the beginning is quite an adventure!

About half an hour later it is time for "Samba on the Wall." My dance partner is Cassio, a dance instructor from Brazil :-)

We spot a monk (and his little brother) meditating on the wall. :-)

Room with a view.



Someone has to take my picture! :-)

We did not bring open fire...

After a couple hours we arrive at Jinshanling Great Wall, the end of another great trip.

In the evening we treat ourselves to some spicy fish. Yum!

In het Nederlands: Vandaag maar weer eens wat foto's van een lange wandeling op de Muur. We slapen in een heel eenvoudig hotelletje en gaan dan de volgende ochtend voor zonsopgang de Muur op. De Chinese Muur is op veel plekken een drukke toeristische attractie, dus het is heerlijk er een paar uur in alle stilte overheen te struinen.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Story of the Chicken and the Beggar

Once upon a time...there was a starving beggar who stole a chicken. The beggar was hotly pursued by the chicken's owner and in his haste he buried the chicken in mud near a riverbank to hide it. Later that night the beggar returned and retrieved the chicken, its feathers covered in mud. He started a fire of twigs and branches to cook the chicken. But not having any utensils he placed the entire chicken directly into the fire. A tight clay crust formed as the fowl cooked, and when the crust was cracked open the feathers came right off,  exposing juicy tender meat and emitting an incredible aroma. The roasted chicken was so delicious he decided to start selling his creation to the villagers. Unbeknownst to him he had just invented one of the greatest culinary traditions of China.

 (From the Red Cook blog)

More recently...there was a Dutch girl who went to have dinner with friends in the Made in China restaurant in Beijing. There, they ordered the Beggar's Chicken, a famous dish from Jiangsu province. The chicken was covered in a layer of clay and had to be cracked open with a hammer.

With great strength, the girl cracked open the crust.

More experienced staff came to the rescue.

An incredible aroma was emitted. Inside the crust, the chicken was wrapped in lotus leaves.

The girl enjoyed the food with her friends!

In het Nederlands: Laatst heb ik voor het eerst "Beggar's Chicken" gegeten, of zeg maar "Bedelaar's kip." Het verhaal gaat dat het gerecht ontdekt is door een bedelaar die zijn gestolen kip snel in de modder gooide om hem te verstoppen. Toen hij later de kip, met modder en al, op het vuur legde kreeg hij een heerlijk gare kip. Voor je kan eten moet je de droge modderkorst even met een hamertje opentikken. Deze avond was die eer aan mij!

Thursday, April 11, 2013


A few weeks ago I took my thirsty self to a local tea house. (Well, actually, Mingbai's Inge Jansen en Monique Groeneveld from China Inside had organized a tour.)

After a short introduction to China's obsession and long history with tea, we sampled a few cups ourselves. If you are having tea in a proper Chinese tea house, better not be in a rush! "To go" is clearly not an option, as the goal is to sit down, slow down, and chat or do some business.

Lovely ladies -- with years of training in teaology -- will come to your table to help prepare the tea, choose the appropriate cups, and poor out the goods in whichever way is appropriate for that particular kind of tea.

Green tea? Let the water cool down a bit. Oolong tea? Be sure to rinse the leaves one time.
Strawberry-kiwi tea? That's a weird Western invention! (The Chinese in fact refer to these other "teas" that don't use any real tea leaves as "flower water." )

The "Confucian Tea House" is just across from the Confucius Temple on 28-1 Guozijian Street.

Preparing for the tea.

Notice the difference between the various kinds of tea. Although I can't remember now which one is which, I do know all the leaves come from the same plant (the tea plant Camellia Sinensis) but have been processed differently. The tea on the left (barely visible) in the green chickenpox cup is called "bai cha" or "white tea," which means it is a very lightly processed tea with excellent health benefits. The other teas we tried were oolong team, green tea, and "I-forgot-its-name-of-course-tea."

Patience is a virtue!

Finally enjoying my cup of T!

In het Nederlands: Wat kan ik anders zeggen? Lieve ooms en tantes, vrienden, moeder, en overige familie: Als jullie in Beijing komen nodig ik jullie uit voor een heerlijk kopje thee in het Confucius theehuis! Koekje zelf meebrengen.