Monday, February 22, 2010

Xiamen Beach Fest Video

I posted this a year ago but I just watched and was feeling so proud I thought I'd put it back up here... this was so much fun.

Just some more photos from Beijing

I took the pic but still can't believe this is Xiang Jiang Beilu,
just behind Riviera. Totally torn up for subway construction.

I went right back to eating street food and had no
problems. These egg pancakes rock.

A little spicy duck tongue anyone?

Band hotpot dinner. Great times.

I got a chinese trad. foot massage and the guy
cupped my feet. Weird but not awful, as I find it
on my back.

Yeah, I miss the food. Sauteed wild mushrooms
with garlic and hot peppers. Hakka delicacy.

Guizhou spicy chicken cooked at table.

New years morning dumplings at courtyard 7 hotel.

Beijing hutong, New Years morning.

Nice interview on Writer Abroad .com

A really nice interview with me right here on Writer Thanks for the interest.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Beijing hutong, New Year's Eve Morning

I stayed in the lovely courtyard 7 hotel my last night on this recent trip to Beijing and on my way out in the morning -- which was CNY eve -- I came across this nice old guy putting up his annual red banners. for some reason, he was interested in my opinion so I shared it and whipped out the Iphone to snap off a quick little video.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Old School corn Milling

as noted earlier, I spent a couple of days up at the Pavilion House run by the Schoolhouse at Mutianyu. It was a great palace to write, think, get my head together. Every day I ate two of three delicious egg pancakes, gladly overpaying the nice local women who cooked them up for me. Onn the second day I found the source of their flour, right outside my door.

This was fun to watch.

Thanks again, Jim -- I know you'll find this video. Feel free to use on your site.

Chinese New Years dumplings video

I took a couple of short videos on my recent trip to beijing and will post them as I get them up. This was a lot of fun and the jiao zi were delicious. Humiliating to have my Pittsburgh-accented Chinese captured, but whatever.

It is traditional to eat jiaozi or dumplings on Chinese New Year's Eve...and most people gather with their families and eat many, many jiaozi. On the morning of Chinese New Year's eve, the friendly staff at the lovely Beijing hutong hotel, Courtyard 7, were starting to make "hendou" (many) dumplings. I filmed a little and then helped out, though they would widely only let me knead and roll the dough. No filling or closing for me

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Some photos

Let's see if I can get some Winter Wall photos up here. I had them attached with the last posts but they did not seem to take. We'll try this one more time and if it does not work out, I will add them when I get home on Weds. or Thursday.

Some village scenes

These are just some snapshots I took around the village where I am staying. The woman cooking the crepe thing is making the egg pancakes I have been living on, eating a couple a day. I love them. After two days I am already getting a local's discount. I'll be back for breakfast.

The walkway shows the way up to my temporary house. 


Monday, February 08, 2010

Another day, another winter Wall hike



Today was crisp and sunny and I had a very productive day, waking up and
writing from about 7-12, then taking a great wall hike for a few hours and
plugging away a bunch more hours into the evening, with a break for a lovely
dinner with Jim Spear.

In all the many, many times I have come here to Mutianyu I had never walked
up to the Wall instead of taking the cable car. For shame. I trekked up
today and it was just about 20-30 minutes, mostly up stone steps. I got up
there and was virtually alone and hiked all the way to the other end of the
Wall from what I did yesterday. I got to the last watchtower open for public
consumption and continued on past the closed sign. It had been a long time
since I ventured onto the wild Wall, but I have had many memorable hikes on
such sections. I was alone so I proceed cautiously through the overgrown
section, which has not been modified since the Ming Dynasty ended 400 or so
years ago. It was in pretty good shape as these sections go.

It was very beautiful and peaceful up there. I did run across a Taiwanese
mechanic for Delta Airlines, who seems to be up here to train his
counterparts in Beijing. Very nice guy and we hiked for quite a while,
taking each other's pictures, before he turned around and headed back.

I was going to hike back down but was surprised to see the alpine slide open
so I jumped on and got down in two minutes. I did that to save a half hour
and get back to work as much as anything.

Finally made it onto the Wall in the snow

One of my very few regrets about our time in China was that I never made it onto the Great Wall in the snow. There was  march snowfall my last spring there and I thought about clearing my schedule and barreling up but I didn't do it and figured that I would have another year to make it up there. Then we moved back earlier than expected, in December, and it never snowed again

Well, here I am now and it's beautiful. Thanks to Jim Spear and everyone at the Schoolhouse, who have given me a free house for a couple of days of writer's retreat. So far so good. I am in this beautiful little remodeled house in the middle of a peasant village by the Mutianyu Great Wall. And it's a bit surreal because I have a strong wifi connection so I am connected to the world -- I even just had a nice Skype chat with Becky and the kids -- while also being a million miles away. The Super Bowl is playing now and I have checked in a few times on but it feels very distant and irrelevant and that's just fine right now. I have been drinking coffee and tea and writing since 6:30 am. I'll go up for another hike later today.

I got up here yesterday afternoon feeling a bit shattered because I could not sleep after the excitement of the gig on Saturday night. But I wanted to make sure I got on the Wall while it was snowy so I dragged myself up and ended up walking all the way to the end, which I had not done in a long time because we always went the other way, to the alpine slide. The open section ends with a long steep climb. I don't think I had done it since one of our first visits there, in 2005, with Hal and Ruth. A sleeping Anna was on my back then. Now I was just dragging my exhaustion and hangover. I was winded, but I got up there and enjoyed the solitude. As I was ready to come down, a big group of high school kids started arriving. It was a high school symphony from Princeton New Jersey and they could barely stagger up. So that made me feel a little bit better about my own struggles.

Alan Paul

"The Expat Life" Columnist
Wall Street Journal Online

Senior Writer -- Slam
The Wall Street Journal, Guitar World

(973) 761-4587 (o)
(973) 570-2898 (mobile)

Alan Paul

"The Expat Life" Columnist
Wall Street Journal Online

Senior Writer -- Slam
The Wall Street Journal, Guitar World

(973) 761-4587 (o)
(973) 570-2898 (mobile)

Nice press in China

Thanks Beijing Daze!

Back in the saddle

Woodie Alan rode again last night for one night at the Orchard, our
ancestral homeland. It was great fun.