Another winter trip to Beijing

As happens for the past couple of years, I spent a week in Beijing again for some Lustre team meetings.

The trip was particularly horrid on the way there, 24 hours in total including 3.5 hours layover in Tokyo (yet another visit to Tokyo where I cannot leave the airport!).

Since I am a Platinum Medallion Member with Delta now, that entitles me to free access to their 1st class lounges on international trips. My first visit to such a place in Tokyo, actually. Not the kind of place as I expected (can only compare to Moscow, anyway). Pretty big, only modest amount of crammed-in chairs are actually comfortable, the free food is somewhat weak. What surprised me was the amount of alcohol in that place, full (but opened) bottles of vodka and gin, beer taps, wines, liqueurs... And people rarely ever filled their glasses with alcohol, and never with strong alcohol, so unlike Russia ;)

Ksusha asked me to take pictures of all food I will see, so I mostly did and there are a lot of pictures of food in this post.

п п╟п╫п╟п©п╣ п╡ п╟я█я─п╬п©п╬я─я┌я┐ Narita
This is "canape" from the SkyClub, they also had some somewhat interesting spiced tuna rolls, but by the time I decided to take a picture, there were none left.
These canape were pretty bland to the taste, though. I certainly expected more taste from the salmon.

Team dinner at the end of the first working day was pretty boring and also happened to be in quite dark place (Yang Ming Yuan restaurant), so not a lot of pictures from there.

п▒п╩п╦п╫я┤п╦п╨п╦ я│ пЁя─п╦п╠п╫п╬п╧ п╫п╟я┤п╦п╫п╨п╬п╧
Rolls with steamed mushrooms.

п я─я▀п╩я▀я┬п╨п╦
Some sort of fried wings with vegetables.

п°я▀ п╡ я─п╣я│я┌п╬я─п╟п╫п╣ Yang Ming Yuan
Picture of some of us sitting at the table waiting for the food.

Next day we went to a Peking Duck restaurant so that new people on our team could try it. Due to a mess up we ordered the duck too late though and were not able to enjoy it in there, they only packed it "to go". Luckily I already tried it in previous visits. The fact that it was packaged was a pity, by the time we got to enjoy it, it became cold and not so tasty. The double pity is we got it from the very expensive place and usually it is pretty good (when it was just made).

п═п╟п╥п╢п╣п╩п╨п╟ п╥п╟п©п╣я┤п╣п╫п╫п╬п╧ я┐я┌п╨п╦
Cook slices the duck. Only the skin and outer meat could be eaten. Leaves a lot of meat "waste". See the cutting video for yourself:

п■я█п╫ п╡ я─п╣я│я┌п╬я─п╟п╫п╣ п©п╣п╨п╦п╫я│п╨п╬п╧ я┐я┌п╨п╦
Dan waits for his Peking Duck (first time for him).

п═п╦п╨п╟я─п╢п╬, п÷п╦я┌п╣я─ п╦ п░п╫п╢я─п╣п╟я│ п╡ я─п╣я│я┌п╬я─п╟п╫п╣ п©п╣п╨п╦п╫я│п╨п╬п╧ я┐я┌п╨п╦
Ricardo, Peter and Andreas discussing something important.

п я─п╣п╡п╣я┌п╨п╟ п╡ п╡п╬п╥п╢я┐я┬п╫п╬п╧ п╩п╟п©я┬п╣
Prawn in popped noodles. The noodles look like Thai popped ones (Mee Grob).

п═п╬п╩п╩я▀ п╦п╥ п╠п╣п╨п╬п╫п╟
Some bacon rolls.

п╓п╟я─я┬п╦я─п╬п╡п╟п╫п╫я▀п╧ п╠п╟п╨п╩п╟п╤п╟п╫

п▒п╩я▌п╢п╬ я│ я└п╟я─я┬п╦я─п╬п╡п╟п╫п╫я▀п╪п╦ п╠п╟п╨п╩п╟п╤п╟п╫п╟п╪п╦
Stuffed eggplants. Actually pretty good, by the time this plate arrived to me (in China plates are put on a rotating glass in the middle of the table, so that everyone can share) it was mostly empty as you can see.

п║п╬п╩п╬п╪п╣п╫п╫я▀п╣ пЁя─п╦п╠я▀
Initially I thought this is some sort of nuts, but this is ... mushrooms. Straw mushrooms to be exact.

In the evening I finally got some time to wander around in the dark and to take some pictures.

п▓п╦п╢ п╫п╟ ChengFu road я│ п©п╣я┬п╣я┘п╬п╢п╫п╬пЁп╬ п╪п╬я│я┌п╟

п▓п╦п╢ п╫п╟ ChengFu road я│ п©п╣я┬п╣я┘п╬п╢п╫п╬пЁп╬ п╪п╬я│я┌п╟
Views from a pedestrian bridge near our hotel. Lots of smoke as is usual for Beijing, you rarely see moon, starts or even sun there.

п÷п╣я┬п╣я┘п╬п╢п╫я▀п╧ п╪п╬я│я┌ я┤п╣я─п╣п╥ ChengFu road я┐ WenJin Hotel
The pedestrian bridge.

п≈п╢п╟п╫п╦п╣ Google п╡ п÷п╣п╨п╦п╫п╣
Google China headquarters are a block away from our hotel and just across the road from SUN China. A lot of people showed up in previous days to put flowers on the Google emblem as sort of farewell, due to a recent conflict between Chinese government and Google and Google threats to pull out of China.

You can see snow on those pictures too, the weather was pretty cold before my arrival, but first three days were pretty mild at around freezing point. Last two days were pretty cold again, though.

п▓п╦п╢ п╫п╟ п©п╣п╨п╦п╫ я│ п╩я┐п╤п╟п╧п╨п╦ я┌п╣я┘п╫п╬п©п╟я─п╨п╟

п▓п╦п╢ п╫п╟ п╥п╢п╟п╫п╦я▐ я┌п╣я┘п╫п╬п©п╟я─п╨п╟
Technopark where SUN rents its office spaces. The tower on the right is codenamed BJS05.

пё BJS5 - я┌я─я┐п╠п╟ п╥п╟п╡п╬п╢п╟
One of the pollution contributors, some sort of a factory or heating plant right at theedge of the powerplant. Building on the right is another building where sun rents space, named BSJ07.

п²п╬я┤п╫п╬п╧ п©п╣п╨п╦п╫
Another view at the street and the bridge, from further away.

Next day (that happened to be Wednesday) some of us were invited to a Chinese hot pot restaurant. I have been to a hot post last visit and absolutely hated it, but it turned out this time we went to a dry pot and last time was a "wet" pot. The dry hot pot turned out to be excellent.

п╜я─п╦п╨ п╦ п÷п╦я┌п╣я─ п╡ hot pot я─п╣я│я┌п╬я─п╟п╫п╣
Peter and Eric waiting for the food.

п╜я─п╦п╨ п╡ hot pot я─п╣я│я┌п╬я─п╟п╫п╣
Freezing cold ;)

п║я┐я┘п╬п╧ пЁп╬я─я▐я┤п╦п╧ п╨п╟п╥п╟п╫п╬п╨ (dry hot pot)
Finally our pot arrives. You get to choose what fillers are there, we chose some pork, chicken, lotus roots, etc. Also the usual chili peppers and some greens are added anyway. Yummy. Chinese name Ma La Xiang Guo.

п╒я▀я│я▐я┤п╣п╩п╣я┌п╫п╦п╣ я▐п╧я├п╟
Thousand year old eggs. I actually disliked their sauce, the version we prepare at home (recipe from our Chinese friends) is much better to my taste somehow.

п√п╟я─п╣п╫п╫п╟я▐ п╬я│я┌я─п╟я▐ я─я▀п╠п╟.
Fried fish. Another excellent dish. Have not found any bones in it too. Very delicious (and this comes from a person who does not like fish all that much). Chinese name Ma La Kao Yu.

п÷п╣я─п╣я─я▀п╡ п╡ я┌п╣я┘п╫п╦я┤п╣я│п╨п╦я┘ я│п╣я│я│п╦я▐я┘
Picture during a break in one of the technical sessions.

On Thursday, my last full day in Beijing, we went to LaoShe tea house. This is a pretty famous and expensive location near Forbidden City in Beijing downtown.
It's famous for its Chinese arts performances.

I had special hopes for this visit as a testbed for my new Canon 5D camera in video mode + external Zoon h4n sound recorder for better sound. Actually the plan was to feed the sound to the 5D from Zoom, but I failed that badly by outputting way too loud signal there, so native sound from camera was totally unusable and I needed to replace it entirely with the version from the Zoom. Another Problem is that during performances I improperly calculated brightness, so highlights were blown out in many scenes which is a pity. Well, live and learn, I hope I won't make same mistakes later.

п▒п╟я─п╣п╩я▄п╣я└ п╦п╥п╬п╠я─п╟п╤п╟я▌я┴п╦п╧ я│я┌п╣п╫я┐ п╥п╟п©я─п╣я┌п╫п╬пЁп╬ пЁп╬я─п╬п╢п╟ п╡ я┤п╟п╧п╫п╬п╪ п╢п╬п╪п╣ п⌡п╟п╬п╗п╣
I guess this is a depiction of Forbidden City walls as seen in some old times.

п╒я▀я│я▐я┤п╣я─я┐п╨п╦п╧ п╠п╬п╢я┘п╦я│п╟я┌я┌п╡п╟ п▓п╣п╩п╦п╨п╬пЁп╬ п°п╦п╩п╬я│п╣я─п╢п╦я▐
1000 hands Bodhisattva of great mercy Avalokitesvara (千手观音).

Right in the lobby some girls are playing on Chinese musical instruments (and one on tea cups), you don't even need to buy a ticket to see this particular performance:

Then we were asked to proceed into the restaurant itself, but Hua asked somebody to make this picture of some of us first:

п⌠я─я┐п©п©п╬п╡п╬п╣ я└п╬я┌п╬ п©п╣я─п╣п╢ п╥п╟я┘п╬п╢п╬п╪ п╡ п╥я─п╦я┌п╣п╩я▄п╫я▀п╧ п╥п╟п╩

These girls are singing while holding lighted candles in their mouths. The art is known as "Han Deng Da Gu" which means something like "playing drum while holding a candle in a mouth".

Some interesting ways to make tea:

I think this one is dancing of mermaids:

One of the more interesting performances - Chinese mask changing. It takes root from Sichuan opera days. The art is supposed to be very secret to this day, even Chinese government regards it as "national secret", even though people are started to teach it openly in other countries already in China this is still mostly passed by older masters to younger family member. The good master can change up to 30 masks during a single performance, so based on this, the master here was not so good. Sill very impressive if you are seeing this for the first time. Well, considering there are only around 200 really good masters in entire China...

The program concluded with Chinese KungFu demonstrations. Also pretty effective and I finally noticed the blown out highlights too. Unfortunately the 5D froze near the end indicating that it cannot write to the flash card anymore, so only first part of the performance is here. Still not sure if the problem is with the flash card or 5D, need to run some more tests (managed to hang it at home with that same flash card once).

And on Friday in the early morning I headed back home. Back trip is faster as usual (due to Earth rotation), also only got 50 minutes layover in Tokyo this time. Total trip time around 19 hours.

Boeing 747-400
Boeing 747-400 in Tokyo Narita airport waiting to take me to Detroit.

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