Day 175 in Beijing: Thanks, But I Think I’ll Order A Salad Instead…

I blogged about one of my favorite restaurants closing four days after I went there a while ago.

It has since reopened and Jill and I have gone a few different times.

I am always amused by the titles of the dishes.

I am also very wary of ordering some of them.

Maybe I’m just a bit of a wimp and cowardly, but I usually order a salad or just veggie stuff when we go there.

I’m okay with you calling me that if you want.

But you have to order these dishes and eat them first.

Day 166 in Beijing: The Singapore Flyer.

Jill and I decided to do a little sight-seeing and wanted to visit the Singapore Flyer.

A word of advice to people that know me, I work as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and love working with people that are experiencing depression and/or anxiety.

I find that anxiety, with a motivated client, is very easy to cure and a lot of fun.

The reason I believe it is fun is that the client, in a very short amount of time, can master their fears and usually start laughing at how silly they were and how easily the client has defeated them.

I have no fear of heights but Jill does.

We’ve been working on them a bit and she’s done an amazing job of mastering them.

When we met, there was probably little chance she would have gone up in the Flyer and looked out the windows.

Today, almost fearless!

Since this is low season, we didn’t have to wait at all and got in one of the capsules with another couples, who happened to be on their real honeymoon, and an Australian bloke.

We all enjoyed the flight and loved seeing Singapore from a different vantage point.

As you can see in the pictures, Jill was able to look out the windows, stand up and walk around and had almost no problems for the whole 30 minute trip.  She is getting closer and closer to conquering her fears of heights and I can’t wait for her to stand at the tip of a building and exclaim, “I’m the Queen of the world!”  Hopefully, unlike Titanic, the building won’t collapse after she states it.

Day 165 in Beijing: The Room, The View, And The Teddy Bears.

Just to give everyone an idea of what our room looked like and our view from it, here you go.

It was booked online and cost about 75 USD a night.

We stayed for 9 days and we enjoyed it immensely.


Day 163.5 in Beijing: R2D2 needs a rest!

Jill and I came home and our little R2D2 Smart Air Filter was dead.

Well, we thought he was dead.

He just needed to unplug from the outlet for a few minutes to revive himself.

And, as far as we can tell, he’s back using the force to save us from the polluted air of Beijing!

Thanks, R2D2!

We were out most of the day today and it, to be honest, it was absolutely glorious.

We probably should have let R2D2 take the day off and just rest.

However, this is the droid we are looking for and we wanted to see how he would hold up.

We have to say, other than passing out for a few minutes before we got home, R2D2 is a champ!

Here are the pics from the day 4 of R2D2 and his quest to save our lungs.

Day 144 in Beijing: Gym Mascot.

He doesn't seem interested in working out much for a mascot.

He doesn’t seem interested in working out much being that he is the gym mascot.

So, I go to a gym near my apartment complex.

It is a nice gym and quite convenient.

I get my workout done, go home, and do what I need to do.

I noticed, after the first few days of working out, that my gym has a mascot of sorts.

This tiny rabbit sits outside the gym and is given lots of food from people that work there.

For all I know, gym members may even bring him food.

Heck, I might even bring him food someday.

Looks like he is a vegetarian so it wouldn’t be that hard to buy him some dinner one night.


Day 143 in Beijing: Cats and Dogs Living Together!

You seem friendly!

Still a bit nervous.

Checking each other out.

Checking each other out.

That is a quote from the classic movie, Ghostbusters.

Bill Murray is talking about how New York City is headed for a disaster of “Biblical proportions” and he mentions that, “cats and dogs living together” would be a sign of it.

A rather hilarious explanation of the end of days scenario.

Well, I think it has happened in Beijing.

As I walking around I saw this weinerdog and this tiny, wet, kitten.

Still a bit nervous!

I think I like trust you.

You are my buddy!

You are my buddy!

I love when events like this occur and I happen to be there.

It is another great reason to always have a camera with me and be looking around at the world instead of at a phone or tablet.

Life happens, whether you pay attention or not.  I would rather be a part of it instead of being apart from it.

Day 140 in Beijing: A Tale of Two Taxis.

My day started at 6 am.  I get up, get ready, and grab a taxi to get to work.

I used to take the subways but taxis are faster, easier and still quite inexpensive.  For the amount they cost, they also reduce my worry and anxiety about being late to work or dealing with problems getting in and out of the subway trains.  It is a benefit that far outweighs the costs for me.

As I jumped in a taxi, the driver asked me for directions.  My Chinese is still so limited that I can only say “Kunsha Junction” which is the name of the crossroads where my I work.  Most seem rightfully confused so I should them my taxi card.

A taxi card is just as it would seem.  It is a card, with a picture of where I want to go, and the writing is in English and in Chinese script.  They can see a map of the location and then read the directions.

One might think this would make it easy.  However, Beijing is growing so quickly, and there are so many new places, that it can be confusing.  The cabbies often ask me if we are going the right way and I usually respond with a simple yes or no in Chinese and hope I’m not wrong.

As we hit the first stoplight, the taxi driver points with his hand to the left and says, “Left-a?” I start to smile and say yes in Mandarin and we both start laughing.  He keeps laughing and starts humming music.

As we drive we both smile and laugh.  As I watch the scenery, I hear him get ready to hock a loogie and then he opens the door and spits it out.  I smile as I’m getting used to this bit of Chinese culture and it doesn’t surprise me as much as it used to when I first arrived.  I had heard of it but I had never expected so many people to do it.

As we continue on our way, the driver starts picking his nose.  Again, this is part of the culture and it is what it is.  Maybe that is why people don’t shake hands?  I don’t know.  This, compared to the spitting, is still taking time to get used to and accept at this point.  All I know is I bring baby wipes to my gym and wipe down everything I touch before using it.

I get to work, pay the driver, and he smiles widely and says, “Sank you!”  I smile back and say, “You are welcome” in Mandarin.   I like to think we part ways better for the experience.  I know I enjoyed it.

On the way home, I hail a cab and he pulls right over.  I jump in and tell him “Huixinxijiebeikou” which is the subway stop 1 block from my house.  He starts laughing and smiling and says, “Huixinxijinbeikou!?!” and keeps laughing. I’m guessing it is my horrible accent and I start laughing which makes it worse.  I then tell him my actual apartment name, “Loma Huayuan” (Chinese for Roman Gardens as we have a bunch of Roman statues in our lobby and parking areas.  Don’t ask me why there are Roman statues but there are.

Now the driver really starts to bust up laughing at my accent and says “No” in Mandarin since he doesn’t know it.  All the way home, he keeps saying “Huixinxijiebeikou” and pointing out things and laughing.  He was so happy and smiling so much I could tell he was enjoying himself and happy he had this horribly accented expatriate in his taxi.

As we got close to my home we passed Huixinxijienankou (“bei” means North while “nan” means South.  Therefore Beijing is the “North Capital” of China.) which is the stop before my subway stop and he says, “Huixinjienankou?  Huxinxijiebeikou?” and keeps on laughing.  I respond with, “Huixinxijiebeikou” and smile and laugh.

As we get close to my apartment complex, I point at it and say, “Loma Huayuan” and he says, “Doi, doi, doi!” which means “Yes, yes, yes!” and is almost always say multiple times.  He is smiling and pulls over at the gate to my apartment and waves to me as I walk off after paying.

I think about these two taxi rides, both on the same day, and how much I’ve gained from them.  I have met, even if just for 20 minutes, two people who have enriched my life, and I have hopefully done the same for them, and I feel so happy and joyful because of this little exchange.

I could have taken the subway but the exchanges there are much more limited because people know where they are going and are mostly interested in the phones or tablets.

The subway cost 40 cents each way for a 20 minute ride.

The taxis cost 5 bucks each way for a 20 minute ride.

The experience I was given with these two taxi rides was worth so much more to me than gold.


Day 139 in Beijing: Food Fun and Southern Barbarians.

Nothing satisfies like Deep Fried Stinky Tofu!

Nothing satisfies like Deep Fried Stinky Tofu!

I imagine some very grouchy Jewish grandmother taught them how to make this dish.

I imagine some very grouchy Jewish grandmother taught them how to make this dish.

There are so many different types of food in Beijing it is almost mind boggling. You can eat food from pretty much any province in China, any area in Europe and most parts of Northern and Southern America.  I haven’t seen a lot of Russian food yet but I’m sure it is around. I enjoy walking around and taking pictures of different menus and as Jill and I walked around yesterday, we saw these two.  I’ll start posting more as I come across ones that have cute or funny translations. We didn’t end up eating at this restaurant because we had reservations with our friend, Brian, at another restaurant, but we will stop by.  The food looked amazing and the prices were about 5 dollars American for each dish.

Minced pork and truffles in a pumpkin and other dishes.

Minced pork and truffles in a pumpkin and other dishes.

Our friend, Brian, suggested Southern Barbarian.  It was fantastic.  According to, it is the 70th ranked restaurant in Beijing out of 9,412 total.

Brian, Jill and me at Southern Barbarian.  Amazing food, staff and atmosphere!

Brian, Jill and me at Southern Barbarian. Amazing food, staff and atmosphere!

The food was amazing, it was very fairly priced, and they had many different types of beer from all over the world.  The food was Yunnan province style which means quite spicy and very flavorful.

We had a wonderful time catching up with Brian and thoroughly enjoyed our meal. We had about 7 dishes that ranged from crispy potato cakes to multiple types of mushrooms wrapped in banana leaves to flash fried pork with chili sauce.  All were amazing.

Day 134 in Beijing: To Quote George Takei, “Oh Myyy!”

Jill and I were walking about Solana Mall in Beijing.

We stumbled upon a fair for a dental office and the company that promotes them.

I won’t put the name of the company down but the mascot sort of will give it away if you live in Beijing.

I immediately thought of the wonderful George Takei and his favorite saying of, “Oh Myyy” and how appropriate it is to this scene.

I could not stop laughing.  Neither could Jill.  Neither could anyone else who saw the mascot.

Looking at the pictures as I edit this post, I’m still laughing.

Now that's what I'd call a root canal!

Now that’s what I’d call a root canal!

This is just so wrong.

This is just so wrong.

Day 98 in Beijing: River Walk, Part 3

I continued to ponder the idea of choice and circumstance as I wondered around the sculptures.

How does one decide to do art?

My mother, Judy Tuwalestiwa, is an artist.

And, I’m biased, but I’d say she is an amazing artist.

Her skill, work ethic, and depth of knowledge, always blows me away.  She works, on average 10 to 12 hours a day in her studio.  It is work.  Not play.

I always learn from her when we got to museums together because she has an understanding of why an artist, and it may be an artist with whose art she doesn’t particularly connect, was important or caused some change in the world by making their art.

I have very little knowledge of art history and so it allows me to see the world through her eyes while also learning and being able to change my perspective.

I remember going to the SFMOMA with my mom, about 7 years ago, and seeing the Phillip Guston: Contemporary Art from the Edward R. Broida Collection.  When I first saw it, I thought it was almost childlike in the “artistic sense.”  It is not like Picasso, Matisse or Manet in that the talent is automatically noticed.  At least not by me.

She explained to me why he was important, why so many of his characters were the hoods of the KKK and why they smoked their cigarettes and always wore big boots.

My mom mentioned in passing that Edward Broida had also bought a painting of her’s.  Maybe two.  I can’t remember.  She said that his uncle had made a lot of money and he had started an amazing collection of classical art.  As Edward Broida made his own money, he asked his uncle what he should do with it.  His uncle suggested he started his own collection, although he should start one by buying the type of art Edward loved.  Edward loved contemporary art and seemed to have a fantastic eye for it.  He started buying pieces that weren’t expensive, but he felt they were important pieces.  As he made more money, he

I have forgotten many of the reasons why but the memories still remain of my becoming more enlightened, knowledgeable and feeling as if I was finally on the “inside” of the artist’s mind and allowed to see his vision, hear his thoughts, and understand what he wanted me to know about his art.

This, to me, is what art is about.  It is about choice.  The choice to let others feel, see, and be a part of your world.  To amaze and open reality to others.   To let them touch your dreams in a way that most others are unable to make happen.

To create life out of lifelessness.