A Very Cold China Trip

Sunset at Summer Palace

Happy New Year! I just got back into the country, our lovely shiny one, from China. It was a spur of the moment decision to go, because we have some work to do and I would like to get it out of the way as soon as we hit 2011. It has been many years since my last visit to China and oh my, does that country really grow.

Our ancestral house in Xiamen

The first destination was to Xiamen, Fujian, for work and to visit our ancestral village. My mother’s grandparents were native of Xiamen, her parents moved to Indonesia when they were young.

Preparation for offering and silhouette of vegetable gardens from the house entrance

During this trip, I have learned something else about myself. That I am not a very good food blogger! We were invited to many lunches and dinners to fancy restaurants, Chinese-style of course, by our Chinese business partners. Glittery, shiny, chairman-style chairs with big round tables in private rooms, with the mandatory flat screen televisions. I couldn’t whip out my camera snapping pictures of the dishes. Not even once. Our hosts were ¬†older gentlemen and I don’t think they would understand what I was doing, and I didn’t bother to even try. So I can only tell you vaguely that those dishes were very posh, as the Chinese are incapable of subtlety. Sea worm jelly with wasabi dipping sauce, steamed egg white with lobster, the usual “Buddha jumps over the wall” soup, steamed crab, pan-fried thick and juicy egg plant with spicy bean sauce, and the flakiest lotus seeds pie.

Chinese cat at Forbidden City, obviously!

When the business matters were taken care of, it was time for us to take the three and half hour flight from Xiamen to Beijing for our family holiday. When we got into the capital, we were faced with very cold Beijing weather. That was about -20 degree celsius. For us who live in a country where the weather is 29 degree celsius perpetually, it was a bone-freezing experience that wasn’t very funny.

I wish I have this Magic button at home. It is really magical!

Then I fell sick. Spent two whole days in the hotel room with the Magic button. And if I may add, the very handsome Hilton men behind the buttons were really, well, magical! So there won’t be any stories about grilled scorpion, deep-fried starfish, steamed seahorses, and that sort.

Reflection Pond at The Cigar Room, Aman at Summer Palace Beijing – or maybe we should start calling it Reflection Ice Blocks!

The next stop was Aman at Summer Palace. It is a resort adjacent to the famous Summer Palace. Since I felt better, we did some walking around to the Summer Palace via the private entrance of the hotel. Even that it was freezing cold, and that all the trees had no leaves, the place was stunning. I can imagine how beautiful it must have been during summer months, but then the place would be packed with tourists. This was good, even it was so cold, at least we could enjoy the scenery and take pictures with less of other people in them.

Bird’s nest on tree, Summer Palace Beijing

God’s Temple, Summer Palace

God’s Temple, Summer Palace

Kunming Lake at sunset, Summer Palace Beijing, all frozen

Entrance to our courtyard rooms, Aman at Summer Palace

Hotel Lobby, Aman at Summer Palace Beijing

As it was too cold outside, the hotel has two level of basements for hidden pleasures. Spa, jacuzzi, gym, private cinema, hairdresser, swimming pool. It was warm and cozy.

Underground swimming pool

Traditional music instrument entertainment and Chinese calligraphy

The only cultural exposure that I got myself the whole trip was just simple activities provided by the hotel. Some tea ceremony, some calligraphy works, some traditional Chinese musical instruments.

Chinese tea ceremony

And of course, lastly, some Peking duck. It was scrumptious.

Peking duck!

I will be back. Next time, I will bring more warm clothes. But wait, I think I will just go in summer.

I hope you guys have a great new year! And a greater year ahead of you. Now I can’t wait for Chinese New Year!

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19 Responses to “A Very Cold China Trip”

  1. 1

    noobcook — January 11, 2011 @ 11:06 pm

    Gorgeous photography!

    • Jun replied: — January 25th, 2011 @ 2:50 am

      Thank you, Wiffy!

  2. 2

    Marysol — January 12, 2011 @ 10:45 am

    What a wonderful journey! Coupled with breathtaking photos!

    P.S. I hope you brought back enough Magic buttons, for everyone:)

    Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

    • Jun replied: — January 25th, 2011 @ 2:51 am

      Thank you! *day-dreaming about the magic button
      LOL :)

  3. 3

    Emm — January 13, 2011 @ 2:43 am

    Wow, looks like you welcomed the new year in style!!!
    On a completely different note, my brother made me Pecel the other night. So, so yum! I love the kaffir lime leaf in it. I’ve never ground them into a paste before…I think it will lead to many experimentations! :-) Happy new years -emm

    • Jun replied: — January 25th, 2011 @ 2:50 am

      Thank you! Pecel is one of my all time favorite! Very surprised that your brother knows how to prepare it. I can eat the paste just by itself! Without any vegetables. That reminds me that I need to post pecel recipe.

      Oh well, thank you for dropping by!

  4. 4

    Maameemoomoo — January 13, 2011 @ 3:27 am

    Love your photos. Simply stunning!

    Oh, I’m also not a very good food blogger too. I am just to shy to start snapping photos with dslr if I’m not out eating with like-minded friends. Haha. But with cellphone, yes! :p

    • Jun replied: — January 25th, 2011 @ 2:48 am

      I found it horribly weird how my phone just wouldn’t charge in China. the iPhone. Argh!

  5. 5

    thoma — January 13, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

    do i need to say the photographs are fabulous!! i loved the magic button. wish i had one here for many other things :) and i have read about chinese tea ceremony. should have been awesome to witness it right?

    • Jun replied: — January 25th, 2011 @ 2:48 am

      I have never had any other tea ceremony, so I don’t really have any comparisons. LOL. But the quality of the tea leaves are amazing. Very fragrant and thick!

      I need magic buttons! I wish they had down how much it cost!

  6. 6

    Claudia — January 13, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

    It felt like a visit to China, vicariously, thanks to your marvelous photos and commentary. Your recipe for Mie Goreng on Marc’s site was wonderful. Brought back memories of eating it in Indonesia.

    • Jun replied: — January 25th, 2011 @ 2:46 am

      Thank you for dropping by! Marc is great!

  7. 7

    jenn — January 14, 2011 @ 11:34 am

    Jun, gorgeous photos! The summer palace and forbidden city definitely looks different in the winter – in that there are a lot less people. When I went in the summer, it was near impossible taking photos without anyone accidentally in it!

    • Jun replied: — January 25th, 2011 @ 2:46 am

      That’s what my parents said too. They have been there many times during autumn, spring and summer. It’s like people, people and people everywhere!

  8. 8

    mycookinghut — January 14, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

    Beautiful! It does looks cold! Well, I do sometimes feel embarrassed to take photos esp when I go to posh restaurants.

    • Jun replied: — January 25th, 2011 @ 2:45 am

      I am thinking of getting a smaller camera now :D Invisible camera, if possible!

  9. 9

    Dhita Beechey — January 21, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

    Hi Jun, gorgeous photos, I enjoy them very much. Never been to Amanresorts in Beijing before but looks like I need to add that to my list and have an Aman experience.

    You should give me a shout the next trip to China, maybe stop by in Shanghai?

    • Jun replied: — January 25th, 2011 @ 2:45 am

      Definitely! Next stop (for work) would be Xiamen again, but maybe we can stop by Shanghai. I have never been there.

      The truth is the level of service in Aman Beijing is not as what I expected. I have really high expectation of Aman! Maybe it is the Chinese culture that is not as warm as Indonesian or Thai’s. We did not receive the warm and tailored service we did from other Amans. But the place is truly amazing.

  10. 10

    Afar — March 16, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

    Hi, I’m writing to you from AFAR Travel Magazine based out of San Francisco, California. We’re currently working on featuring “Aman at Summer Palace” Hotel in our next issue, and happened to find your photos on Google. I’d love to discuss possibly using an image in our magazine, so please contact me at Dani@afar.com, when you get a chance. Thanks!
    -Dani

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