Day 616 OUT OF Beijing: Anchor Brewing Company Tour.

 

Jing A in the Anchor Steam Brewery!

Jing A in the Anchor Steam Brewery!

 

Jill and I knew we needed to leave the City Guides tour to make the Anchor Brewing Company tour in time.  We seriously have the best “jobs” in the world doing research for San Francisco Tourism Tips, right?

We hopped on the bus, got spit on by some guy with a serious mental illness (He also pretended to shoot at us after he got off the bus. Oh, San Francisco you are a city of dichotomies) and arrived at Anchor Brewing.

We were a bit early so we had lunch and hung out until our scheduled 1 pm meeting time.

At 1 pm, we went upstairs into the tasting room and Stephen showed up to introduce the tour and what would be happening for the next 90 minutes.  FYI: The tour cost 15 bucks and needs to be rsvp’d for at least a few weeks in advance.  It used to be free but people would have to reserve their spots 6 MONTHS in advance and, if they didn’t show up, the tour time and space was wasted.  Trust me, 15 bucks is more than worth it for 45 minutes of history and to taste 6 different beers!

Stephen poured us all a beer and told us that it would be the last beer we get, while on the tour, so to savor it.  I did my best but finished it within about 5 minutes.  He gave us a tremendous amount of history regarding Anchor Steam, including that they were the first craft brewery in THE USA opening in 1871.  They survived not only the 1906 Earthquake and also Prohibition.  All of the beers are made in the copper brewhouses.  They also have 6 different beers, which most people (including me) didn’t realize as they aren’t as widely distributed.  The company also almost died, as it was very close to being bankrupt, at one point but is now doing better than ever and they will even been expanding to a new location in China Basin near ATT Park that will hopefully open in 2016.  It will also double their total output.  The current building, which will stay in operation, was built in 1937 and is beautiful.  The tasting room looks like a 1930s or 1940s tasting room and is quite stylish.

However, this is definitely a craft brewery at this point. They brew 22 hours a day and work three shifts to make sure they can produce enough product.  That may sound like a lot but think about this: Budweiser produces 51% of all the beer consumed in the USA.  I went to one of their tours, with my buddy Nate Pile, about 4 years ago and it was insane how much beer was being made.  And that was only one of 11 breweries that they have around the USA.

I’ll stick with the little guys and keep drinking my local beers.

Stephen also stated that there are now about 17 microbrews in San Francisco proper.  That is just now up to the same level before prohibition so it is pretty obvious that San Franciscans always liked their beer but it took a long time for us to get back up to speed.

By the way, Anchor Steam is called that because of all the steam that would come off the top of the building as it brewed.  It is a special beer, which is only made of the best ingredients with no adjuncts, pellets, rice or corn.  They are the real deal.  Surprisingly, since it seems like they’ve been around forever, Anchor Steam only started bottling their beers in 1971.  I guess I was only 2 years old at that time so it has been forever for me.

As you can see in the pictures. the employees are allowed to drink some beer, from time to time, and they seem to love their jobs and their beer.  We were told they get one beer after 4 hours of work.  Sounds like a great job to me!

Stephen allowed us to hang out afterwards, as we told him we were trying to get information for the SF Tourism Tips page and we discussed life, beer and traveling as he, and many of the employees that talked to us, seem to be very fun, slightly goofy, and adventurous people.  No matter if you are a tourist, or a local, I’d suggest this tour because there is so much information, and so much beer, that it is a trip down memory lane…if you can remember it afterward.

By the way, if you notice, I’m wearing my favorite shirt from Beijing.  The front of it has the Chinese character for “JING” and then A.  This is the brewery our friends, Kris Li and Alex Acker (and his amazing wife, Ashley. Hi Ashley!) own and where we spent much of our time in Beijing hanging out. They are two of the sweetest people we know and like family to us.  Without those guys, and their AMAZING beer, we’d not been able to survive that city.  We miss you guys and hope you come visit us and visit Anchor Steam when you do!

Ps.  Click this link if you want to go on an Anchor Brewery Tour.

 

Day 601 OUT OF Beijing: Bartlett Hall and Cellar Maker Brewery.

 

Cupid's Span on the Embarcadero. An art installation on the Embarcadero. It is a bow and arrow but I've cropped it close.

Cupid’s Span on the Embarcadero. An art installation on the Embarcadero. It is a bow and arrow but I’ve cropped it close.

 

Jill and I are headed back to our cross San Francisco tour to gather more information for SF Tourism Tips.

We decided to walk down the Embarcadero and then up Market Street until we arrived at Barlett Hall.  This is a relatively new establishment, just over one year old, and they have done a beautiful renovation on the location.

It is all mahogany and dark wood inside the restaurant and brewery, and the there is a very long bar with TVs hanging above it to watch news and sports if you so choose.  There are also a lot of tables and booths if you want to enjoy your beer in a more quiet setting.

We showed up for happy hour and were glad we did.

They choose one of their beers to sell for 5 bucks at happy hour and also a bunch of delicious appetizers for the same price.

Sadly, since SF Beer Week is in just a few weeks, they had to save their own beer as they are very small and are afraid they will run out!

So, we had a different beer, which was just fine but a bit disappointing as we really want to taste all of the locally made beers and compare them for a page Jill is writing on her site so people can do a full SF locally made brew pub tour very soon.

Did you know that there are already 17 different locally sourced brew pubs in SF?  And that SF is adding another 10 more this year?  It is true.  Also, a little known fact that SF has finally gotten back to the amount of brew pubs in SF that it had before prohibition happened in the USA.  It took almost 90 years to get back to where we were.  History repeats.

After talking to the two bartenders, drinking our beers, and eating our appetizers, we headed out to Cellar Maker.

We walked down to it, about 20 minutes away, and loved this tiny, hole in the joint, brew pub.

Actually, it is more like a bar than a brewpub since they don’t serve food and don’t allow anyone under 21 years of age there at this time.

It probably only holds about 40 or 50 people and the beertenders were very friendly while also moving around like lightening to serve everyone.

They had about 12 beers on tap and we tried all but two of them because of time constraints.

We really enjoyed all of them and were pleasantly surprised that they have a “5 oz” tasting option that allowed Jill and me to share a beer (about $2.50 per 5 oz) and therefore try them all and not get drunk.  We also were taking a bus so we didn’t have to worry about drinking and driving.  Just another benefit of going car-less as we travel this world!

We called my dear friend Sonia, who showed up, and we caught up with her after not seeing her for almost 2 years at this point.  Sonia is one of my dearest friends and we met salsa dancing about 10 years ago.  It seems like we’ve known each other for ever and we almost have.  She’s quite a bit younger than me and I sort of think of her as my younger sister in a way.  She’s incredibly sweet, talented as a producer and sound engineer, and an amazing salsa dancer.

We hung out for an hour or so, talked about what changes have happened in our lives, and she was able to meet Jill and Jill was able to meet her.  Sonia sort of “knew” Jill because of my blogs and Jill sort of knew Sonia from my pictures of us dancing and my stories of her but this was a first meeting and it was fun to see how quickly they got along and that they both enjoyed each other so much.

After we finished our beers, we headed off to the bus and back to Petaluma. It was a nice, quiet, and easy ride home.

Good times, good fun, good food, good beer, and good friends.

A perfect day in San Francisco.

Day 595 OUT OF Beijing: Cable Cars, Alcatraz and Clam Chowder.

 

A cable car getting ready to leave on its journey.

A cable car getting ready to leave on its journey.

 

As Jill and I hopped off the bus, we knew we had a number of places to visit today and needed to be time sensitive since we had so much to do and research for SF Tourism Tips.

The first place we needed to visit was the Aquatic Park area and get a few pictures, and videos, of the cable cars there.

It would be a long day of walking all along the Embarcadero and this would be a perfect first stop.

The Buena Vista Cafe, which is world famous for its Irish Coffee was right across the street but we decided we’d wait a bit and take our time before imbibing as we planned to hit a few of the new breweries later in the day.

The cable cars were running, on their usual 10 minute schedule, and we were able to get all the pictures we needed.

We enjoyed just hanging out, watching the fog roll away, and seeing the signs of pure joy on the peoples’ faces as they began their journey on the Cable Cars through the San Francisco hills.

 

Waiting for the journey to begin.

Waiting for the journey to begin.

 

After getting what we needed, we headed down to the waterfront, to grab some breakfast. We had left the house around 6:45 am and it was already about 10 am and we were starting to get a bit hungry.

One our way, we spied Alcatraz prison, off in the distance and shrouded in fog.

As people say, “It is a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

It always amazes me how close Alcatraz is to the shore and yet how desolate it feels when you are there.

It is definitely worth a trip, if you haven’t gone, and worth visiting again if you have!

 

Alcatraz peaks out of the fog.

Alcatraz peaks out of the fog.

 

We walked down Jefferson Street and listened to the barkers as they called out different attractions people could enjoy, like renting bikes or little go-carts, to travel around, and finally got to the area where all the fisherman sell their clam chowder in sourdough bread baskets.

We both love these delicious treats and missed them greatly while we were away.  The clam chowder was delicious and the bread was nice and toasted.  All in all, a perfect way to start our getaway in San Francisco.  It also only cost $7.07 for a meal that filled us both up and warm us up at the same time.

Doing research can be wonderful if you love your job as much as Jill!

 

Delicious Clam Chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl!

Delicious Clam Chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl!

Day 593 OUT OF Beijing: Hidden Gems of SF Tourism Tips.

 

A close up of the Giant Buddha on the second level of the Hua Zang Si Buddhist Temple.

A close up of the Giant Buddha on the second level of the Hua Zang Si Buddhist Temple.

 

Jill’s site, SF Tourism Tips, is in a never ending process of being updated and improved.  Jill wanted to update her “Hidden Gems” page and so we decided to head into San Francisco for the day.

I really admire Jill’s trait of never being happy with “enough” and always wanting to better her site and the experience for the people that visit it and want to learn more about San Francisco and how to improve their trip to our lovely city.

We went into San Francisco, by Golden Gate Transit from Petaluma, and then walked around the rest of the day.  We did have to catch one bus ($2.25 USD) to the Columbarium in the Richmond District, but otherwise all our travel was on foot and for free.  Since we are car-less, we didn’t have to pay a toll to get into SF ($6 USD on the GG Bridge), parking ($2-3 USD per hour) or deal with worries about car crashes, gas, or tickets.  The cost to get into SF on Golden Gate transit was $10.75 per person.  A very good exchange for comfort, relaxation and 1.75 hours to either talk or check emails as we rode in on a very comfortable and clean bus.

A longer shot of the bridge with the new movable divider on the left.

A longer shot of the bridge with the new movable divider on the left.

This is also part of our frugal living in that we want to see how realistic it is to live car-less and only use mass transit.  We actually really enjoy mass transit and we’ve met some wonderful people who are traveling around the world and living a upwardly mobile vagabond life like we are at the same time.  I also had a great conversation with a bus driver that will be retiring in one year and his hopes to do a ’round-the-world trip right after his job is over.  We talked about where to go, what to see, and I sent him some links on how to get great deals on flights and cruises.  I’m hoping we catch the same bus he drives, again, and we can see how he has progressed on his plans!

Our first stop was the Columbarium and it was magnificent.  It is one grave site in San Francisco that is taking interments and it is kept up beautifully.  Harvey Milk’s memorial is there as is Carlos Santana’s father’s ashes.  There are also many other people, and memorials, that are stunning and touching.  It sounds a bit strange to think of this as a place to visit and enjoy, but it is, and we actually were there during an interment and the family and friends were quite joyous and happy.  If you are interested in seeing it, make sure to call ahead and ask for Emmit to give you a tour.  He has been with the Columbarium for many, many years and knows stories and the history like no one else.  We will have a tour when we go back next time with him to learn more about this amazing structure and final resting place.

We walked over to Pizza Orgasmica and had their lunch special of salad, beer and a pizza for $10.50 each.  It was delicious and utterly filling.  I also was able to check in on one of my favorite apps, Untappd, and add the beers that Jill and I tried for lunch.  It is a fun social app and keeps track of how many beers you’ve had and gives badges for different categories.

Jill's pesto pizza.  Yummy!

Jill’s pesto pizza. Yummy!

 

We then headed down to Hua Zang Si Buddhist Temple.  This is a Buddhist Temple in the middle of the Mission District.  That, alone, would make sure it is a hidden gem.  It was originally a Lutheran Church and later became a temple.  We were blown away by the two Buddhas, especially that massive one on the second level, and the friendliness of the monks that were at the temple that day.  Most of them didn’t speak a lot of English but they seemed so happy and content that words weren’t needed to express what they were feeling.  As we walked back outside into the Mission District, we saw this gorgeous mural of Carlos Santana.  The cultures are so different and yet they are side by side.

 

After the temple, we headed down to Southern Pacific Brewery in the SOMA district.  Again, this was all just walking around and seeing the sites so we could experience it as if we were tourists and make sure to give people a “true to life” impression of what they can expect as they cruise around the Streets of San Francisco.  By the way, where are Mike Douglas and Karl Malden when you need them?

Our refreshing beers at Southern Pacific Brewing.

Our refreshing beers at Southern Pacific Brewing.

 

This brewery is only about 3 years old and it is inside a very cool tin roof hangar type building.  The beer is good and the food seems to be fairly priced.  We didn’t eat any food while we were there but had a great time talking to the bartender and just digging the atmosphere.  It will be added to a new page Jill is writing about all the different brewpubs in San Francisco.  Did you know there are over 15 at this point with 10 more scheduled to open during 2015?

By the way, this was also the same day we say the Austin Healey and the Tiny Tesla I’ve just posted about.  There is so much to do in San Francisco when you just walk and observe so check out SF Tourism Tips and find out all the newest information for all your San Francisco tips!

Day 590 OUT OF Beijing: Healey. Austin Healey.

 

 

I love the reflection of the tree from the incredible paint job.

I love the reflection of the tree from the incredible paint job.

 

To paraphrase James Bond, “Healey.  Austin Healey.”

Jill and I aren’t huge fans of using cars.

We both sort of agree that they are used for getting around, doing what you need, and not much more than that.

People seem to become branded by their car and their car style to some extent and we have become branded to the fact that we are car-less.

The more we drive on bus, take planes and ride trains, the more we realize how easy it is to get around in the USA without a car.  We also don’t work in an office or have hard time lines for a lot of things we want to do so it does make it easier for us.

We also realize we have chosen to be kid-less also so that makes it much easier.

However, my brother David and his wife Meta, were also car-less while having two young kids, for a quite a while and he survived in Portland by just using bikes and cycling wherever they needed to go.

We aren’t trying to change the world, or anyone else’s way of living, we are just enjoying the way we live and the freedom it affords us.

That being said, Jill and I still love seeing super cute cars and we were walking around San Francisco yesterday, researching information for her site, SF Tourism Tips, and saw this beautiful Austin Healey.

My mom and dad, long before I was born, used to have an old Triumph TR-3.  I believe it was black and they sold it since they knew they’d be having kids and a tiny two seater wouldn’t really have been a viable means to transport.  I seem to remember that the person that bought it crashed it soon after it was delivered and it was wrecked.  The balance of joy and the impermanence of objects.

This tiny 1960 Austin Healey Sprite Mark 1 was parked in the SOMA district, near Southern Pacific Brewery and the Lyft headquarters, and the owner was obviously still making repairs and fixing it up but it was gorgeous none-the-less.

The owner had a few other cool looking motorcycles in his garage but we didn’t want to intrude or bother him.

We just took a few pictures, admired the beauty of this car, and smiled as we walked away.

We truly love being back in the Bay Area and being able to walk around the amazing city of San Francisco.

 

Day 576 OUT OF Beijing: Food. Delicious Food.

 

A 32 oz Corona at Hecho.  Jill's guilty pleasure is Corona beer.

A 32 oz Corona at Hecho. Jill’s guilty pleasure is Corona beer.

 

One of the many things that Jill and I missed was the fresh and delicious food that is so easily available in San Francisco and California.

California is the bread basket of the USA and we can get pretty much any food we want, fresh, at any time of the year.

Beijing isn’t horrible for this but it is a painful adjustment when the tomatoes there taste bland and so does pretty much everything else.

Our friends were able to find some amazing fruits and veggies for their restaurtants but Jill and I had trouble doing the same at home and we guess it was because they were all very good cooks and used fantastic sauces with them.  We were too lazy, and didn’t care enough, to figure out how to do that.  We just ate at their places instead.  I guess it is that we were efficient.

Either way, we are so happy to be home and be able to have a wonderful meal.

We’ve already gone to about 7 different restaurants in the 2 weeks we’ve been home and each one has been excellent.

They’ve ranged from Mexican, to Mediterranean, to burgers, to sub sandwiches, pizza, and pub food.  One of true benefits of SF Tourism Tips is that we can go to these restaurants because we need to be able to advise people whether they are worth eating at or not and we want to stay up to date with all the changes and advances in the SF restaurant world.  Jill is definitely more of a “foodie” than I am and she has decided to teach me more about the nuances and I’m enjoying it greatly.

It is a tough life but someone has to do it.

Enjoy some of our pictures of our delicious meals!

 

Day 562 OUT OF Beijing: First Date Re-Dux.

 

Happiness.

Happiness.

 

Jill and I met at the SF Carnaval in May of 2013.

I was waiting to see my friends dance in the parade and she was waiting to take pictures for her site, SF Tourism Tips.

My friend, Jon-David, and I were going to meet up and hang out as I was leaving in 8 days and most likely wouldn’t be returning for the next 3 years.

Jon-David and I worked together at Family Service Agency as social workers and we knew the second we met we’d be great friends.  We have the same twisted sense of humor and ability to laugh at life’s insanity.

As I waited for the parade to start, I became hungry, so I left my seat sitting on the curb, and went to eat a burrito.  When I returned, Jill was sitting there and I asked her if I could sit beside her.  She agreed and then we started talking for an hour or more.  Jon-David was running late so we had a lot of time to talk about life, what we want to do, and that we were both single.

After the parade, Jon-David, Jill and I ate some Mexican food and we headed off our separate ways.  Before Jill went home, I asked her to go on a date with me and she said, “Sure!”  Even after knowing I was leaving in 8 days.  Pretty amazing.

The next day we went to Palmyra, a Syrian restaurant in the Lower Haight where she was staying in an AirBnb.  After lunch, we sat on the roof of her place, had a bottle of wine, and talked for hours.  After making sure we were sober, we drove over to Elevation 66 and had dinner and a few of their amazing craft beers.  I dropped her back at her place and asked her out on another date for the next day.  Next thing you know, we had 8 dates in 8 days and she was planning to visit me in Beijing and getting ready to buy her ticket a month later.

As we walked around San Francisco today, taking pictures and smiling at everyone we saw, I mentioned we should go to the same restaurant and tell the owner what had happened.  He had been very sweet and the food had been amazing.

We decided to do that and the owner, who is an immigrant and speaks with a wonderful Middle Eastern accent, asked if Jill, “Do you have a sister for my son?”  We started laughing and were once again grateful to be back in San Francisco and able to connect with people in such an easy manner.

We ordered the mezze platter and sat down.  The owner came by, gave us our food, and said, “God bless you both.  I’m glad you met and have found love with each other.  This is wonderful!”

We thanked him and gave blessing back to him and realized we are right where we should be, in every way, and this is heaven to us.

The food, I have to say, was out of this world.  It tasted amazing and everything was so fresh.  We have realized, as we are back, that the food in Beijing had been quite bland compared to food here.  Everything is so fresh and easily available.  It is like we are tasting food for the first time and we almost started crying when we had the tahini sauce with lemon.  It was that good.  We are going to enjoy re-experiencing San Francisco, and all it has to offer, in the next 3 months.

 

Day 559 OUT OF Beijing: The Flight Home.

 

The clouds above Seattle.

The clouds above Seattle.

 

Jill and I finished up saying goodbye to our friends and did the last bit of packing up.

We ended up giving away a lot of stuff and have decided to be as minimalist as possible.

We never really had much so it was a pretty easy decision.

We both came here with 2 check ins and our 2 carry on.

We are leaving with 1 check in and our 2 carry on.

Yep, after 1.5 years we only have 1 check in bag (less than 50 lbs) and one carry on.

I’m actually writing an ebook on how to minimize what you own and maximize your life and it should be out within the next two months.

It will be self-published and our the new site we are working on currently.

However, at this moment, we were focusing on getting to the airport, checking in, flying home, and starting our new life.

Our friend, Sarah Ting Ting Hou, set up a driver for us and it cost about $32 USD to drive us to the airport in a van door to door.  It takes about 45 minutes to get there so it was a great deal.

We then checked our bags, went through customs, and immigration and had our bags searched at three different locations (hey, I guess it is a good way to keep employment high in China if you have 10 people to do one person’s job).

After all that, we went to the vending machines and bought a few semi-cold beers.

We brought along our new gift from Peter and Gabrielle.  He is a statue that they bought us and we decided he would be out “gnome” that we’d go everywhere with and photograph him as if he is a real person. We decided to name him “Niubi Geme’r” (which means “Awesome Homey” in Chinese), and our two teddy bears, who were a wonderful surprise gift that the administrative assistant at my company, Emily, gave to us when we flew to Singapore.  We’ve named them “Pijiu” (which means “beer”) and “Bing” (which means “cold”) so we always have a “Cold beer” with us when we travel!

 

As you can see, Niubi Geme’r also likes cold beer so it is a perfect fit.

The flight took about 11 hours and it was a short lay over in Seattle.

Well, it was supposed to be a short lay over in Seattle.

However, the storms that have been pounding the West Coast made sure that our lay over was longer than anticipated.

It ended up being a 4.5 hour lay over and we had time to grab some nachos and beer.  It was perfect actually.

Our flight was then diverted into Oakland, into of San Francisco, because of the storms.

Our friend, Alethea, said she didn’t mind and would pick us up there instead of SFO and we just relaxed and flew on down.  We happened to sit by a very nice young man named Rafael who had just spent 6 months in China and had flown on the same flight as we did from Beijing.  We had a bit of conversation and then we all passed out for a a bit.

We landed without event and grabbed our baggage.  Alethea picked us up and we bought some wine, and a fantastic carnitas burrito at El Pueblo in Petaluma (where they live) and celebrated with her, her husband and my dear friend, Randy and their son, Cyrus.

It was, in my humble opinion, a perfect way to end our time in China and start our new lives here in SF.

Soon we are onto the rest of the USA, and after that, the rest of the world.

 

 

Day 558 OUT OF Beijing: The Last Supper (and breakfast).

 

Austin, Alex and Patrick and the rest of us doing a final cheers at Jing A Taproom.

Austin, Alex and Patrick and the rest of us doing a final cheers at Jing A Taproom.

 

Jill and I made so many friends during our 1.5 years in China that it is still hard for us to fathom it.

We were really lucky to be around such amazing people and have such a fantastic support system.

Living in Beijing is really difficult and it can be quite overwhelming.

The company I worked for has one psychotherapy department and it is in Beijing.

That says it all for me and Jill.

We were able to have a few goodbye dinners, and parties, and I am grateful for everyone that came.

I’ve decided to post a few pictures of them and our friends.

FYI, I gained about 20 lbs in the 1.5 years were we there.  I believe this happened because we ate and drank, a lot, with a lot of friends.  We also chose not to join a gym because we didn’t want to deal with going through the pollution to workout and then have to deal with it again to get home.  I stopped running because, after a day or two of nice weather, we’d have horrible pollution and it would basically set me back to the beginning and I just gave up.  These were our choices, and we own that, but it was a very difficult place to live.  If not for our friends, both at work and outside of work, it would have been even tougher and I doubt we would have stayed as long as we did.

 

Day 555 In Beijing: SANTA CON!!!!

 

 

Me in front of one of my favorite sculptures.

Me in front of one of my favorite sculptures.

 

Jill and I did Santa Con last year in Beijing and had a blast.

We met a lot of people and made some amazing friends during it.

I also did Santa Con the year before I came to China, in San Francisco, and something like 5000-10000 people showed up.

Beijing rolls about 150-200 people deep but it is almost more fun because Santa Claus and Christmas is still a novelty here and people are really surprised and seem to enjoy a bunch of crazy laowai walking around and giving out candy and having fun on the streets.

Our friend, Federica, who is from a small town near Turin, Italy, wasn’t able to come out with us this year but posted a picture of herself wearing a santa costume on the Great Wall of China.  I can only imagine what the Chinese nationals out there thought about it.  They probably laughed and loved it.  I know I would have.  Federica is hilarious and one of our closest buddies.  She’s also in the first picture above this post.

We hung out with our friends Barbara and Patrick most of the time.  Barbara is from Brazil and Patrick is from Cape Verde.  They met here and have fallen in love and are a super cute couple.  We love hanging out with them because they have such positive attitudes and also want to travel the world and see what is out there.  Barbara is also an awesome salsa dancer and Patrick is great at dancing kizomba and merengue.

We also hung out with our friend Rachel, who is in the picture below with Jill, who flew up from Hong Kong just to hang out with us this weekend.  We call Rachel, “Our daughter” because she is 26 and we feel like she is our kid.  She’s actually third generation Beijing-ren (ren means person) and moved to Hong Kong for work about 3 months ago.  We met at a Jing A beer and food pairing at The Big Smoke a while back and became fast friends immediately.

We hit about 6 different bars and ended up at our favorites, The Local and Jing A Taproom.  On our way, we stopped by The Big Smoke and passed by Beijing Sideways, which is a tour company where you can rent motorcycles, with sidecars attached, and do tours of Beijing, China and who knows where else.  Someone hired them to ride all the way from Beijing to Paris, if memory serves correctly.  One of my friends, Moeava, used to work there and is setting up the same company in Tokyo.

That is the part of Beijing that Jill and I truly love: Meeting so many people, from all over, that have such different attitudes and ideas on how to live life.  We enjoy being excited by their new ideas, their willingness to take a chance and their desire to try something new.  The Jing A guys, Kris and Alex, are perfect examples of this:  Kris Li worked at Cisco and Alex Acker worked at Ogilvy and Apple.  About 3 years ago, they started home brewing out of one of their bathrooms.  Then they built up and became more popular.  The owner of The Big Smoke, Kris Ryan, asked if they wanted to build their brewery in his restaurant and they agreed.  Just about 4 months ago, Kris Li and Alex started their own restaurant, the Jing A Taproom, and it has been a huge success.  It has been wonderful to watch them learn, grow and strive to be their own people and not just stay stuck in an “easy” career or life.  Alex also got married to the amazing Ashley while we were here and we’ve been able to celebrate their new life together as we’ve seen it grow.

We’ve made so many friends, in just 1.5 years, it is hard to believe.  However, that is why we love traveling and being out there: There are always adventures to be had and places to see.  We’ve seen so many of our friends make these amazing choices and live lives of adventure.

I wonder what adventure is next for us?