It was another beautiful but cold morning in Beijing. (I know that news outlets are constantly reporting on the terrible air quality in Beijing and while it does have its terrible days, did you know that it is not even listed among the top 20 most polluted cities in the world?)
Our must see today was Tsinghua University. Tsinghua University along with Peking University are the top two universities in China. The competition to get into those two is fierce. The process is not fair. Depending on the household registry of the applicant, the student has a 0.01%-0.56% chance of being admitted. In comparison Harvard’s admittance rate is 5.9%. While Tsinghua is not the prettiest University campus (Stanford) I have seen. It is the most charming. I fell in love with the ginko trees and all the bicycles on campus. To me trees and bicycles symbolizes carefreeness.
More scenery shots:
Just one more:
I was also impressed with Tsinghua’s cafeterias (Currently there are 13 of them, each of them are a good size with the largest of them taking over an entire 3 story building.)
You need to have an ID card to purchase meals because it is heavily subsidized by the school. Most of the food is regional Chinese. Picture below is a price list. (1 meat + 1 vegetable + rice = $0.65 cents. 1 meat + 2 vegetables + rice = $0.72, 2 meat + 1 vegetable + rice = $0.80)
After walking around for three hours G and I took the subway to Bird’s Nest Stadium. More walking. Beijing is freaking huge. The bright spot is that nowadays the bathrooms are clean, cleaner than most NYC bathrooms.
By now it was 2pm in the afternoon and G and I had not eaten since 8am. Nothing to be had in the Bird’s nest area except instant noodles and terrible looking pre-packaged lunch boxes. So we took the subway to the Hou Hai area of Beijing and found that all the highly rated restaurants are closed between 3-5pm. Beijing is not as food convenient as Shanghai. Only the touristy restaurants are open.
So we decided to eat fried squid instead, which turned out to be amazing. Fresh squid and fried to order seasoned the way you like it. We choose salt & pepper and spicy flavor.
And then we walked for another hour from Hou Hai to Anding Men to eat at Xian’r Lao Man. The Anding Men area is a very picturesque area of Beijing. Next time, I would probably stay in the Hou Hai or Anding Men area of Beijing. Lots of local flavor. You will see lots of local Beijing craft. These sugar creations are the most delicate out of the many that we saw.
We arrived at Xian’r Lao Man who had just opened at 5pm.
Take a look at these gorgeous pan-fried dumplings. A full shrimp in each and every dumpling. The best dumplings still. Xian’r Lao Man makes 30+ different kinds of dumplings, but I only recommend their house special of shrimp, pork, and leek. The rest are good too, but you need to order 8 minimum of per filling, so just go with the best.
When in Beijing you will see many of these pastry shops in the touristy districts:
They will be full of Chinese tourist buying boxes of traditional Beijing pastries. I have never liked them and unless you like mooncakes, I do not recommend you buying an entire box of carb and lard laden pastries. I only semi like this one and it is only because I love jujube.