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.
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!