Unlike Seoul, which I knew nothing about, I’d only heard negative things prior to arriving in Beijing. I’d been told to expect heavy pollution causing Beijing to appear a dirty city. The combined sandstorms and grit of 20 million people definitely shows. It is a city overrun with people in every way possible. The roads, the subways, the sidewalks are just crowded with people. While looking for art and music in Shanghai, I was told Beijing was more of the cultural seat of China. Unfortunately I decided to check out the heavily commercialized and completely regrentrified 798 gallery area. This was no better than the stale art I saw in Shanghai and I wish I had more time to look for what else was there. I would advise skipping the walkthrough with forced street art and galleries that had a depressing sameness. My one high point was catching a Jean Francois Rauzier exhibit, but he is a French artist that I found in LA and has nothing to do at all with Beijing. His hyperphotos stitch together so many high resolution photos to create what looks like a real life M.C. Escher, surreal and unsettling with its photo elements.
I did eat well this week. Like any huge metropolitan area, Beijing had its fair mix of international foods. Beijing is a hub of delicious Peking duck and wheat products. The surprising Beijing food for me was all the dairy products.
There is Beijing drinking yogurt, shown in the picture above, which is a gritty thick drink with a slight sweetness. I liked it but I preferred the fresh milk pudding that was a bit harder to find. I’m told you make it by boiling milk, skimming the skin that forms, and pressing these skins to form the pudding. It has a very fresh milk taste. I’ve always thought Chinese people dislike dairy, and I’ve only seen tofu like pressed cheeses thus far, so it’s very exciting to see so many delicious fresh milk products.
The food was delicious but I’m still in no rush to get back to explore more of Beijing. I feel like I barely saw it yet I am not itching to see more. t is a city full of people getting things done running a country full of people getting things done.