Posts Tagged ‘neighborhood’

Da Boys ;)

Todd Posted in Uncategorized,Tags: , , ,

Michael, Trevin and Spencer showing off their snacks with the smoke stack in the background we are about to go explore.

On Tuesday, I took the boys out for some good ‘ol boy time.  We spent a few hours Tuesday morning walking around and exploring more of the area near our apartment.  When we first arrived in our new neighborhood, it was too cold to just wander about for long amounts of time, and this has really been my first chance to just walk around without a specific location planned to visit – doing some good ‘ol exploring with Michael, Trevin, and Spencer!

We first walked from our apartment (the yellow house icon in the map below) about a block or two away to the Hualian marketplace (the yellow shopping bag icon in the map) to check it out.  I had been there a couple of times myself on some early exploratory missions to see what is close by to our apartment, but this is the first time I had taken any of the kids.  I’m sure we’ll come back here in the future, as it has the closest movie theater to our home – and I like watching an occasional movie now and then ;)  We looked at the movie offerings they had – and none of them looked quite like something to show three kids, all of them were local Chinese movies – so we opted not to watch a movie.  Instead, we went through several of the stores in the market place – actually I’d better describe it as a smaller mall, it is a very nice and clean place – but being clean, it obviously is marketed toward’s a crowd with more than the average income here in China.  There is a grocery store in the mall as well – and that is where each of the boys selected a snack of their own that you see in the above photo.  We also got some yummy bread snacks at the bakery in the mall – I must admit… I love Chinese bread bakeries and the creative bread creations they make (hrm … I need to write more about Chinese bakeries in a future post).

View Exploring on 19 April 2011 in a larger map

We wanted to climb higher - but opted to not get ourselves hurt or into any trouble ;(

After eating our snacks, we just decided to walk around and see what we could find. The smoke stack we saw near the store (see the first photo above – the smokestack is in the background) looked interesting so we decided to see if we could get a little closer. It turned out that the area around the smoke stack itself was easy to get to – and the gate was wide open seemingly inviting us to check it out, so we did :) Although I wanted to climb up on the smoke stack myself – I figured that might get us into trouble so decided to stop them at the first platform. We took a few photos here thus the camera icon on the map above representing where this location is at.

What a temptation ... wouldn't it be fun to climb up?

Plenty of coal still laying around to run around on :)

An extremely nice lady working her garden in the small space available that still has dirt ;)

After playing around for a few minutes near the smoke stack – I noticed there were people in one of the buildings there. I went and asked them what this area was, and they told me it had been closed for some time now – which begged the question as to what it was they were doing there. They seemed to be playing mahjong when I interrupted them – so I decided to let them be and we continued on our way. Directly outside of this area I saw this older lady working in the dirt – obviously working on her garden in the small amounts of dirt still available in the outskirts of Beijing. I was interested to learn more myself – so drug the kids over and started to chat. I’m hoping to run into her again, as she was extremely nice and a joy to talk to. She and others in the neighborhood share the small area of dirt there behind the Hualian market area to plant some of their own food. Turns out that she has a son living in the United States as well so was interested to hear we were from the United States. Like so many of her generation that I meet in China, she was all smiles when it came to meeting the kids – and told me how fortunate we are to have them! I agree ;) I think the kids even had some fun practicing a bit of Chinese with her – Michael successfully introduced himself, and understood and answered fluently with no hesitation when she asked him his age! I’m impressed by how quickly all of the kids are learning Chinese, they’ll likely pass my abilities in the language before I know it.

After leaving I realized I should have asked if we could perhaps come back and help from time to time. I’d love to have a garden again ;) although the walk from our apartment is about 10 to 15 minutes so it is not the most convenient location.

At this time is was about time to walk back, but we took one more side route to check out some back alleys… lot’s of cool stuff there to see, will have to go back when I have more time ;) And of course, Spencer and Trevin had to play at the play area just outside our community. We’ll leave you with a photo of Spencer on a little car he was sharing with a local boy being watched by his grandpa:

Spencer having some fun with a borrowed car ;)

- Todd

Exploring our neighborhood.

Todd Posted in Uncategorized,Tags: ,

Glad to be home!

I recently returned back from being on business in the U.S. – was gone for too long (nearly a month) – but VERY glad to be back.  On my first full day back (Saturday April 16th) we decided to go exploring near our neighborhood.  There is a park just north of us that Jill and I have seen on the google maps satellite imagery that looks like it would be worth exploring, so we started our day there.  The park is named 回龙园 (Huilong park).  They actually charged admission to the park itself – at 1 yuan per person (~ 15 cents per person), and then within the park itself there were several different places that had things to do that we had to pay for as well – but they all were well worth it, and we all enjoyed them very much.

Waiting for the bus right outside our neighborhood. In the end it was taking too long to come, so we ended up walking the two or three blocks to the park ;)

Enjoying the bumper boats!

The first activity at the park we decided to do was the bumper boats.  The cost was 30 yuan per boat for a 15 minutes of fun in the water (~ $4.50 per ride, a bit steep I thought, but fun none-the-less).  Two of us were able to ride in each boat, the driver on the left, and the gunner on the right.  The guns were laser guns – where you could shoot these targets in the water and when you hit them they would start squirting water straight into the air, loads of fun ;)  I was paired with Trevin, Michael with Spencer, and the gals Kaylee Ann and Jasmine had the last boat.  Jill opted to stay safe and took some great photos and video clips.

It was lunch time after we had finished with the bumper boats, so we went in for lunch at a restaurant located just north of the park.  The menu was full of sooo many choices, which seems typical from my experiences here so far, fortunately they had lots of photos – as I’m still very uneducated when it comes to all of the names of the various food choices in Chinese (I need to work on that).  We opted for some dumplings, a corn dish, an excellent duck soup , and some sweet potato fries ;)  The “fries” weren’t called such on the menu, but that’s basically what they were, although the breading on the outside was sweet, while I was expecting salty… unfortunately that turned me off on the fries.  The kids loved them though and devoured them down  almost instantly!

We got two plates of the dumplings, a great variety of flavor and color!


Man was this soup good! Would definitely recommend it.

I was expecting salted "fries" when I ordered these, but they were sweet all around... kids loved them!


Michael realized his bowl of soup had something extra special when he pulled the duck's head out :)


Out on the paddle boats ;)

After lunch, we were ready to see more of what Huilong park had to offer.  There was more than we had time and / or money for – but we decided we had to rent one of the paddle boats to go out on the lake.  I got quite a workout taking us around… it was lot’s of fun though, especially as we would go by other boats and get all the staring eyes wondering what it was they were seeing (i.e. 5 kids and their dad – not a common site here I’m sure).  We even eventually convinced Jill to join us on the boat which was a great relief to my legs.  Michael did a great job, but I’d have to say that he hasn’t surpassed his mom yet in paddle boat abilities :)


Some neat animal figures by the side of lake, as viewed from our boat ;)


A cool clock tower in the park as seen from our boat.

Aren't they cute :)

Jill just loves these trees now that they are all flowering. I must admit I think they are quite attractive myself :)

After we had our fun in the boat, or wait – I think it was actually just before we had our fun in the boats (oops, my post is out of order, you’ll have to forgive me), we enjoyed playing on the exercise type equipment that seems to be everywhere in Beijing… always fun to play on:

There were many other things to do at the park, which is great – as we’ll have many opportunities to return I’m sure.  They had several small kiddie amusement rides there, as well as a really fun looking blow up slide (a huge blow up slide – sorry, didn’t take a photo this time), and even some electric kiddie cars you could rent for the smaller kids.  I’m sure there are other things I’m missing, but all-in-all a fun place to visit.


At the entrance to the exchange market.

Our exploring didn’t stop at the park, we decided to walk another block north of the park to the North Huilongguan Exchange Market  城北回龙观交易市场 (think HUGE flea market).  Many people from work have told me about the market, tell me I can get good deals on lots of commodity items, fruit for example, so I was excited to go check it out.  We didn’t get very far this time though, mainly due to the fact that it really wasn’t a place for the kids – not enough fun things going on I suppose, so we cut out early before seeing too much.  I plan to go back at some point so look for a future post about the market ;)

I feel like I’m beyond getting long-winded… so time to cut this post off.  We did take a bus to get home after our adventures though – tired from all the walking.  Fortunately buses are relatively inexpensive at only 0.4 yuan per trip (or less than 10 cents).  Here is a slideshow of all our photos from the exploration, enjoy:


- Todd