Beijing- Day One! ~ Hutongs, Holiday Inns, and Juggling, Oh My! ~ June 15, 2012

  The next morning, bright and early thanks  to a massive amount of jet lag, Dad and I got up at 5 am to explore the city. We started our day by walking around downtown searching for a Holiday Inn my Dad had found on the interwebs to do some laundry. (My parents had already been traveling for almost a week and needed this kind of thing at this point) Our hotel was located right next to the 2008 Olympic campus, so we took a quick stroll by the structures. The famous Birds Nest, Water Cube, and what looked like a three-torch tower were the only places we saw from afar, but they were impressive even at a distance.

The “Bird’s Nest,” some other random 2008 Olympic structures, and a squiggly IBM building.  (People still use IBM’s?!)


When we got to the neighborhood that Dad thought we should be in to find the hotel, we quickly found out that the words “Holiday” and  “Inn” do not translate easily into Chinese. We got hungry, and failing to find anything that resembled an IHOP, Denny’s, or any other breakfast diner, we stopped in the what we thought might be Chinese equivalent. It was quite clearly a place that mostly serviced locals, and the people within were very wary to speak to us. Dad, however unbeknownst to them, speaks Mandarin pretty well, so he could understand them when they were saying to one another “No, I don’t want to talk to them, my English isn’t good, YOU talk to them!” You can imagine how relieved they looked when this tall, white, professorial American guy broke out in their native tongue. We ordered whatever the guy next to us was having, since we didn’t know what a Chinese breakfast should consist of, and were brought two bowls of white soup and friend dough. The soup had rice in it, and not much else flavor wise. It basically tasted like flour and water.  The bread was good, though, and I found a delicious chili sauce on the table, and loaded it up on the bread. Taking a cue from our neighbor, we dipped the bread in the soup and found it pretty satisfying as far as breakfasts go.

Breakfast of champions (or confused Americans…)

We went back to the houtongs after breakfast to do some shopping, and stopped in a cute park that ran along the highway. It was a strip of greenery, not more than 20 yards across, but running about half a mile lengthwise. It was full of people exercising, but not in any way I had ever experienced before. People were slapping their arms and torsos, swinging their legs, and actually using those metal stretching and exercise bars that parks have installed in them. No one was jogging or anything like you would see in the US, they were all stretching, or doing calisthenics, tai chi, and there was even a few people playing ping pong at an outdoor table! And these were not all the usual 20-somethings you see jogging outside plugged into iPods- most these people were 50 and up! It was such an interesting sight, and one that was so common I would quickly grow accustomed to seeing groups of people exercising together.

Outdoor Ping Pong!

We walked around the hutongs with Mom later that day doing some shopping, then they went back to the hotel and I continued to explore. In a few hours time I had to grab a cab to meet my parents, but no cab drivers would take me! I was trying everything I could, pointing to a map, trying out my rudimentary Chinese, but to no avail. I had to get in and out of two cabs before pointing to a temple that was easy to get to, and thereby convincing the cabbie I was worth the fare!

A blind musician, a common sight in Beijing

In the most strange and astronomical coincidence ever, my cousin Kimmy, from Germany, was going to be performing in Beijing that night. She’s a professional juggler (yes, you read that right. Juggler. It’s huge in Europe and she’s literally the top female juggler over there!) and she had a show at a theater festival in the housings. (Her poster is on the left of the two over there, on the left of this post!) She was partnered with an amazing male dancer, and though beautiful uses of lighting, juggling, and a bit of magic, we saw one of the most memorable shows I’ve ever seen. I wish I could describe it here, but it really wouldn’t do it any justice. Just suffice it to say there were so many moments when I literally thought to myself- ‘How did they DO that?!’ I’m talking levitating juggling balls, slow motion bodies falling, and people literally disappearing from stage before my eyes.

Dinner with Kimmie!

After the show we went to a really unique yunnan food place. Yunan means “cloudy south” in Chinese, and is a province in Southern China. The food was ok and the ambiance was great, but my eyes were literally closing of their own accord- I was quickly losing the battle of jet lag for the night, so we went home and crashed.

~ ~ ~

Extra pictures for your enjoyment:

um… what exactly are you selling again? – (As seen in the hutongs)

Aw. It’s ok.

Hutongs by night

Night games

Poor wabbit…

~ ~ ~

– All Images are Copyright Selena Moshell Photography 2012 –

– All rights reserved –

– Please do not use or republish images without written permission –

~ It helps if you say please! =) ~


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