I have been able to see a little of Beijing with family friends Shu Bai, Frank and daughter Rose. After being treated for Peking Duck at Quan Ju De (pronounced Chwan Jew Duhh) I met with them at a restaurant recommended by a modern city listings magazine.
We went to Private Kitchen #44, which is in a Hutong. Hutongs are city dwellings that consist of a low wall leading to a small courtyard surrounded by small buildings. This is the Peking equivalent of a brownstone, i.e. row houses. They are pretty and I like the idea of taking your house and dividing up the rooms to surround a central yard rather than having the open space in the front or back. Lots of light etc. A lot of the more ramshackle Hutongs were bulldozed for the Olympics, which is a bit of a shame for the people who were displaced.
The food was a little fancier and pricier than some of the restaurants that locals go to, but, the setting was beautiful. Maybe the prettiest place I went so far. Frank and Shu Bai thought that some of the dishes were overprepared - too much spice, but we loved several dishes. I am also on a quest to find a folding Bike. These are the coolest sporting goods on the plantet; well engineered bicycles that fold into a small size to fit on a train, behind your dresser, in the trunk of the car or whatever. Great for commuting, or like me with not any space for a bike at home.
Okay... It's been a while since I've written something down. I am nearing the end of the trip and looking forward to returning. After breaking down the National Stadium position, we headed over to the Ling Long Pagoda, a viewing spot for the Olympic Area. We travel up to around 120' into the air and watch activities below. Also we have a great point of view when they want to have a nice background to overlay commercial graphics, such as a GMC logo. It's been lonely and trying sometimes in that for many days there is no one to talk English with me, the crew is German speaking, the director is Dutch. Have been making friends slowly with my Viennese co-workers though.