This photo? This is what we would call a chopstick fail.
We were having lunch in Beijing, at a place we had randomly picked while walking down the street, and we were in the midst of a massive dumpling craving. So we went in and ordered several kinds of dumplings, plus these beef noodles. As you can see, our attempt to split it between bowls didn't go so well. The staff of this restaurant thought it was hilarious and not so discreetly kept coming by the table so they could see (and laugh).
At this point, our trip to China at Thanksgiving seems a lifetime away. But as we think more about the trip and look at our photos, we just can't help ourselves! Here's one last post about our trip.
Let's start with a video.
We shot all this footage on our iPhones, so it's a bit shaky, but we think it gives a good taste of some of our adventures while traveling in China. The Great Wall! The Forbidden City! Crazy food!
But there are some shots from the video that might need a little 'splaining.
On our first full day in the country, we went on an amazing motorcycle sidecar tour called Shanghai Sideways. For four hours, we zipped through the streets of Shanghai on vintage cycles, from the French Concession to the Bund to the Old City. That's Zach in the sidecar in the photo above.
It was a fantastic way to get oriented to Shanghai, and the guides took us to some off-the-beaten-path places that we definitely wouldn't have seen otherwise. Also, the guides were the coolest: ex-pat French living in Shanghai. They seemed like characters out of a novel.
From Shanghai, we took a bullet train to the city of Hangzhou for a day trip. It's a city of "only" 8 million people, and it's centered around a beautiful, peaceful lake surrounded by hills studded with pagodas. Here's a (slightly jumbled) panoramic shot from an island in the middle of the lake. (This is actually a famous view in China: The three stone sculptures you can see floating in the lake are on the 1-yuan note.) Click on the image to get a better view.
The boat tour you saw in the video was one that we took down the Yulong River near Yangshuo, in the southern part of China. One day, we took a bike tour of the countryside, just the two of us and a guide whose English name was Karen.
At one point, we left our bikes with Karen and hopped on one of these bamboo rafts. We sat on the little bench, and a dude stood behind us on the back of the boat, propelling us downriver with a long oar. Occasionally, we came to a lock in the river, and the boats had to go over these little drops, down to the next level of water, which is what you see in the video.
It was like a Venetian gondola, if those gondolas were much more rickety and didn't have sides, and you got wet, and you had to go over a series of small cliffs. We loved it!
Food & Wine was the only U.S. food magazine we encountered on our travels. This one was inside an airport in Beijing. We assume it's the same headlines as the U.S. version since it shares the same cover. Western Thanksgiving propaganda?
We visited many Buddhist temples on the trip, but this was one of our favorites, outside Shanghai.
This is a street scene in the Old City of Shanghai. You can click the image to enlarge it, and get a better sense of the full scene: street vendors selling food, people eating al fresco, crowds milling up and down, considering their food options.
Another temple shot of incense being burned. We just like the photo.
This geological formation in Yangshuo is called a karst. They're literally everywhere in that part of the country. We found them to be otherworldly, like something from a fantasy movie. (Incidentally, this shot was taken from our balcony at the inn where we stayed.)
One more karst shot from the roof of our inn...
...and the last of the karsts (with us blocking the view!).
We actually don't have any other trips on the horizon, but have been thinking about where we might go this year. What about you -- where are you heading this year?