Saturday there will be a beer festival sponsored by Great Leap and the Beijing Homebrewers Society. Yin Hai and I will have an entry together, #6 black IPA, so stuff the ballot box! I had to come back to the U.S. before fermentation was completed on this batch, but the word is that it is a very good beer.
I posted an update to my previous thread, but I feel this really deserves a seperate post. Since arriving back in the U.S. things have escalated in China and it has become quite a mess. There have been mulitple assaults on foreigners (primarily women) in Beijing. The thing to understand about Chinese thugs is they really do not have the same respect for women that westerners do. They will assault a woman as if they were fighting a man, full beat down, kicking them on the ground etc. The thing about these assaults, and this type of violence in China in general, is that most of them won't have the courage to attack one on one, they want at least a 2v1 or greater situation. This goes for attacking women as well. The police are completely useless, and reporting the crime is usually a hassle where they try and blame the woman for the assault.
I have to advise people if you are thinking about visiting China, now is not a good time. This will probably all blow over by the end of the year (hopefully) but for now there are too many other wonderful places in the world to visit without this type of government endorsed xenophobia.
The yard and the house look ok, but as usual I have massive weeds and flower beds that need fixing. And the house had that old house smell that I hate. After airing this place out and unpacking I CANNOT WAIT to begin working on fixing the front window and continuing to work on the bathrooms. It feels unbelievably good to be back in the United States.
Looks like I am headed home at the right time. The Beijing police just initiated a 100 day crackdown on foreigners who are here illegally. So people can expect to be stopped outside their apartments, walking in areas popular with expats like bars or restaurants or basically anywhere. Plus I would anticipate getting some of those "knocks on the door" that used to happen to me every month or so. They have setup a hotline for people to call in anyone they suspect of being an illegal foreigner. That will be a nice harassment tool, particularly as a lot of people don't care for their "laowai" neighbors.
Previously I did not have a difficult time as long as I had the documents readily available for inspection. This may be different though, we just have to see.
I could not resist throwing down on another Julia Child recipe. Pork chops slow cooked in butter, garlic and green beans, served with mustard, cream and tomato sauce over fresh pasta from LMPlus - Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking pg 387. The pork chops are slow cooked for about 2 hours at very low temp. Normally I would do this in the oven, but I decided to use a good saucier pan and try it out on the stove top.
I served this with a bottle of the Sardinian house white from LMPlus. At 160RMB per bottle it is not a bad deal for a reasonably good white wine - especially in China. For this dish the cream sauce is the key. You reduce 1.5 cups of heavy whipping cream down to .75 cups. That takes a lot of patience and care to make sure you don't burn the cream. But the result was very good, and all the customers (2 LOL) were satisfied.
I have been having some problems with connecting to, and uploading images to, the Tin Turtle site for the last two weeks. I only connect via the VPN mainly to keep the login procedure and credentials from being recorded by the Great Firewall. With the all of the troubles Beijing Boyce has been having (being hacked, targeted by viruses etc) I've been really careful about not letting my guard down.
We have been having internet problems in general. Very, very slow speeds (<15k transfers) and frequent disconnects. The satellite tv has also been having a lot of difficulty with channels freezing up for a day or more at a time, and some channels being completely unviewable. Our feed comes in through the apartment so there is not anything I can do to really work on it. As with most things here, you just stand around and accept it.
Beijing was a walled city with some of the most extensive fortifications in China. I have always found the age of this place to be fascinating, and its role as both an ancient center of power and culture is shared by only a few cities in the world. A few times while traveling through the city by car I saw pieces of the old fortifications and I had wanted to explore some of these places. On Saturday I took Annie out and we went to the old observatory followed by a long walk down one of the last remaining sections of the inner city walls.
The wall and moat system was developed and maintained with great diligence up until around 1900. Between the early 1900's and 1949 much of this fell into disrepair from lack of funding. And some of it was modified and sections removed for modern transportation requirements. Even so, most of the city's fortifications were still intact in 1949. There was quite a bit of debate following the founding of the PRC as to whether to try and preserve the city's historical gates and walls, or whether to demolish them to make way for modern transportation. When the plan for the subway was finalized it was determined that construction would be accomplished by using "cut and cover", meaning an open ditch would be dug, the lines laid, and then covered back over to conceal the subway underground. Rather than demolish existing residential areas, it was decided to lay the subway lines underneath the old inner city wall and moat system, thus eliminating the need to destroy businesses and homes.
The section that we visited is just south of the railway station. There is a long section that remains standing (though vegetation is allowed to grow all along the top) There is a temple in the southeast corner of the wall that we did not get a chance to visit, but we will return again to explore.
I thought I would provide my Weibo link for anybody who is a member and wants to connect with me. I don't update it as often as here, but I am on there. Not being able to read Chinese makes it challenging.
Tin Turtle on Weibo
We had a very fun Chinese New Year and I really enjoyed being with Annie's family. They always try to make me comfortable and are really the nicest people.
Ever wonder what the sun would look like from the surface of Venus? Beijing in the afternoon - no cloud cover.
The AQI in Beijing is hanging around 460 for the second day in a row. It is really tough to deal with the constant feeling of sickness. Last night I completely skipped dinner because I just felt too strung out to even go outside for food. These types of days are dangerous and your best bet is to stay inside and run the air purifier full blast in your room. Today I had to go out to get food for dinner tonight and to take care of a few things before the Spring Festival. This last trip back to the U.S. I picked up a serious N100 breathing mask from 3M. It makes a huge difference, and while it is still not good to go outside at least I can mitigate some of the damage by wearing this between buildings.