Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Breaking" in the kitchen, & hiking the Wild Wall

We've been here for 3 weeks and today was the first time we really went grocery shopping. Up until now, grocery shopping seemed a little daunting, just because of how different the little shops are here as opposed to the big chains I am used to in the U.S. But, I went today & bought some ingredients to cook our first homemade meal! It may not seem like a big deal, but its a huge milestone and really helpful towards making me feel at home here.

As I was cooking... I washed the biggest glass bowl we had... went to set it down when it suddenly slipped out of my hands! I watched this bowl bounce on the marble floor... bounced once.... bounced twice... I thought to myself, maybe it won't break! when the third time it hit, ::the sound of shattering glass:: .... glass went everywhere! We didn't even have a broom so we had to call the front desk for help.

This was after my hubby had already picked up the many large pieces of glass... lol. Tiny shards everywhere!

Sheepishly grinning! oops. (Yes its time to dye the hair.. I kept putting it off because of where I am... but, oh well, I am taking my chances and have an appointment with a French guy on Friday!)

Luckily the food still came out delicious!

We had a really low key day at home, after yesterday, our legs are super sore!

We took a bus about 1 and 1/2 hours outside of Beijing so we could hike the Great Wall. The part of the Great Wall that we hiked is known as 野长城 -ye changcheng - or The Wild Wall. Its called this because its not the picture-perfect part of the wall most tourists come to see when they visit China. This part of the wall dates back to the Ming Dynasty and is somewhere between 400-500 years old, and has not been restored since. We are still going to see the more picturesque portions (actually going to camp out on the wall during a hike from Jinshanling to Simatai... the things I do for my hubby!). The group we went with is a Beijing hiking group, and it was definitely more geared towards hiking as opposed to sightseeing. It was actually really strenuous, I had to climb like 1000 stairs it seemed, and it was over 93 degrees yesterday!

Hiking ON the wall... had to be very careful, the stones are extremely old and some are majorly loose!

Being goofy - but I like to call this what Amber (of Amber's Notebook) correctly termed this type of outfit as "OIC" (Only in China) or as I'll say "OWH" (Only While Hiking)

The view from almost-the-top

After the hike, we all went to a restaurant in the local village for some well-deserved lunch. I didn't get any pictures of the place, but I wish I had. It was very much like I'd imagine a village restaurant to be. Really good food, but washing the veggies in little copper bowls outside on the floor... I put the hygiene concerns out of my head and just ate, as I was starving! (I know, all my classmates are sooooo proud of me!) Oh, and let me tell you, using one of those squat toilets after drinking 5 bottles of water during the hike, squatting while your legs are shaking from pure exhaustion... if I had fallen in it - it was not very clean at all... I would have died. haha.

These next pictures are from a short hike we took to the local reservoir. Its the Miyun Reservoir, its one of two main reservoirs that supply Beijing with water - however, the other one is too polluted to use, so this is the main one that supplies Beijing with drinking water. There is a controversy right now over who controls it, because much of it is actually in Hebei province... so, Hebei thinks because most of the water is in their province, Beijing should pay them for the water, BUT Beijing thinks Hebei should pay them because they say the water is polluted from industry in Hebei. The water levels are also decreasing a lot, which is another big problem.


Tomorrow I'll post about our little experience with a well-known scam ;) I also have a big Chinese-fashion post in store for you at the end of this week - you will definitely like that one..



  1. You guys climbed the unrestored part of the wall! Wow, huge props, and I'm very happy to hear you didn't fall into the toilet hole afterwards : )

    glad you were able to enjoy a home cooked meal (was it easy to find pasta?) and too bad about that big bowl! Rest up and I look fwd to reading more about your adventures (and the scam!).

  2. Jean I think its so cool that you think its cool we hiked the unrestored part! LOL! I was afraid not many people would appreciate it!

    Its actually fairly easy to find certain western foods! There is a grocery store owned by a Chinese lady but its a foreign food grocery store, so we went there today for the chicken. The other store we go to is a tiny little place that surprisingly also has some stuff you can find in the US!

  3. great pictures!!! Sorry about ur bowl
    I cant wait to read about the chinese fashion post!

  4. That looked tough!! Good for you! And PS I have totally dropped that same glass mixing bowl on our tile floor here and the amount of tiny shards of glass it makes is incredible! I love looking at your China pics because I feel like I get to re-live our short adventure there.

  5. Wow, I bet it would be even more incredible (and dangerous!) to hike the unrestored portion of the wall. It also looks like an incredibly tough hike. Glad you made it up! (And even more glad you didn't fall into the toilet - blech!)

    So sorry to hear about your bowl. But now it really is home, isn't it?

  6. Steph!! You have officially completed one of my bucket list items. How amazing to see the Great Wall through your images. Such an amazing experience you are having!

  7. That wall hike is incredible and lucky because most tourists will never get to see/hike it! Sucks on the glass and sucks about squatter toilets! I can imagine peeing the bushes might be a safer bet after that hike! heheh

    xx Vivian @

  8. You look so cute and mischievious sitting on the kitchen counter!
    The Wall is so beautiful, what a great thing to experience!

  9. That looks like a gorgeous hike! I hope to do that someday- it's definitely part of my bucket list.

    Are you used to the squatter toilets yet? I just can't even imagine...

    (The Pretty Pauper)
    Feel free to follow my blog :)

  10. Wow that looks incredible! I'd be sore too :)

    And yummy that dinner looks scrumptious!

  11. Ok, so...
    1. How cute are you in the broken bowl picture??? So cute!
    2. You are a bad ass for that hike. That looks super serious! Big props on that! (Yes, I said "props", I'm old.)
    3. You are camping on that later? Um, who are you??? Haha...Good for you, little adventurer!

  12. Haha Shannon, I know right? Its only for him. I don't have to enjoy it! LOL. Just kidding. I'll try. Hahah. I'm actually getting nervous about staying in really small hotels when we go to smaller towns. I'm afraid the bathrooms will have squat toilets.

  13. Ok first of all...there is nothing wrong with being proud of accomplishments, like going shopping! I totally have pictures from the first time I made it back from the store by myself!

    You look adorable sitting on the counter! HAHA! Totally something I would have done while waiting on the hubby to clean up the mess.
    Stinks that you broke a bowl. I am so accident prone, last month I broke my coffee pot AND a mug. Geez!

    You're brave to have gone with blonde hair! I went back to my natural color before I left for Peru. No telling WHAT they might have done to my hair color. I was too scared to find out! However, I did cave and get some slight blonde highlights when I was back in the states a few weeks ago. I miss my platinum blonde SO much and I desperately needed some color.

    pics of the hike are beautiful! Looks awesome and intense! Glad you didn't fall into the toilet! LOL!

    Have a great Sunday Evening!

  14. Wow I can't believe yall climbed that. I would have been terrified.

  15. wow, hiking the wall looks treacherous! And in that heat, I can't believe you made it!

    Chic on the Cheap

  16. wow! that view is beautiful. your posts are always really interesting! :D

  17. KImberlee - my husband told me he thinks I am getting over my fear of heights! I hope! haha!

    Mimi - thanks! thats really sweet.

    Lyddie - in some places! lol.

    Amanda - thanks! LOL! I couldn't go brunette. I tried at one point about a year ago and then went to bad hair dresser after bad hair dresser and FINALLY got a pretty color blonde back. I have my formula and I am praying the guy gets it right!! I think I'd actually be more afraid to get it done in Peru than here, haha, I don't know why.

  18. Awesome awesome! Glad to see you guys are adapting and loving reading every minute of it!

  19. Gorgeous images! I wish I were there! Sorry about the bowl! Looks like you were cornered. ha ha


  20. Hey Steph! awesome pics. I wanted to let you know that I have friends all over china and (I used to live in the city that had several) there is an international store that you can order all KINDS of things from. I did my major shopping at one. You can get specialty things like velveeta shells and cheese (nasty, but soo good) or special cheeses. Anyway, the market is called City Shop and there are 3 or 4 in Shanghai. There might be one now in Beijing, but not sure. Anyway, my friends in Beijing and all over ORDER from here and it takes a few days to get it, but it comes fresh and to your door. and the shipping fee is pennies. seriously. Its awesome. Here is the # 021-64461110. They speak english pretty well if you cant communicate with them for the specialty stuff. They can send you a directory with all the items and you can even order online. The Carrefour there is pretty good too. International section.

    Hope this helps!

  21. These photos are so amazing, I love meeting a fellow adventurer! The hiking photos are SPECTACULAR! It is such an experience to be in a new country and have to figure everything out, and having to figure it out with a language barrier too! Although China is quite a bit different than Italy, so I'm sure you have had a lot of challenges that I never totally different letters in the language! haha The food that you made looks really good, and I love your outfit in the photos of the broken glass! Thanks for sharing your adventures with us.....I just love it! :)


  22. Thanks!!!!

    They do construction at night because there is less traffic...Lame, I know.

    Feel free to check out our website for more about why we are here :) My site is only a little bit of info.

  23. Ha - if you had fallen off the wall, they would probably just bury you in the wall like the did with the people building it who died while working. Sorry - gruesome fact. I had to research the Great Wall in high school. We learned a lot of... erm... interested stuff. Fun blog!

  24. hello, im not sure where i found that quote. i love it as well. wow! ive always wanted to visit china china. great photos

  25. Lisa - thanks for stopping by!! I'm thinking maybe I saw it in a book.

  26. Kel- thanks for the info! I will definitely look into it. The store here that is the foreign store is called Jenny Lou's and there are actually several branches around the city, its where all the westerners shop! I have been to the Carrefour here too, its pretty good. There is one right at my subway stop before I head home from class.

    Rachel - thanks for the thoughtful comment!

    Domesticated bliss - slowly but surely!! I took the subway today all over the city by myself!!! woohoo! Milestone!!

    Rachael - I was! LOL.

    The rowley mama - interesting tidbit, I guess its a good thing I didn't fall off then huh? lol. Thanks for stopping by

  27. KEL- Actually, just googled City Shop - there is one in Beijing, and I've been to it! It was nice, but Jenny Lou's is a lot closer and I think they are pretty comparable! Actually the second choice apartment we were considering has the City Shop right in the basement.

  28. Hey Steph! Thanks so much for your kind words. Much appreciated on the eve of my 30th bday. AAAHHHHH!!!!yikes! Sooo glad you found the city shop or a store that is comparable. I lived there a YEAR before finding it. HAHAHAH, i had no idea you could buy cheese in China. When I was there in 03, they didn't have cheese even at the Carrefour. I bought almost EVERYTHING there. From cheese to cereal, fruit and granola bars. That sort of thing. I bought milk, yogurt, bread, some fruit, chips and such at the Carrefour or local Kedi market. BTW, the sexy in Beijing videos are hysterical. what the what? I wonder if she is still there....if so, you should be friends with her. She is awesome!!!

    have a great "humid" day........I went to Beijing at this time 2 years ago and melted off all my baby weight in 2 days. :) hahahahaha


  29. I'm so glad I saw your post on "its simple love"! Your blog is awesome! I just came back from a two week trip to China and Beijing was one of our destinations.Its really fun to read about your everyday life there, and I especially admire you for being able to speak Chinese!

  30. Hi Steph, your Great Wall hike looks so amazing and you were dressed perfectly for that challenging walk/climb. Your first homemade dinner looks delish.

    Looking forward to your local fashion post!

  31. What a lovely blog you have and I'm loving all the pictures...looks like you are taking full advantage of your time n Beijing! :)

    Liesl :)

  32. Yay for not falling in the toilet!! haha!

  33. HOW AMAZING!!!!! Beautiful! Did you almost cry when your bowl broke? I haaaaate breaking dishes.


  34. eeep that is super high! i would not have the guts or the agility to do that! but sounds like an amazing experience!

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