Sweeney Todd & Korean BBQ

30 Aug

I woke up in sweat, due to the rising temperatures and the high humidity, but that couldn’t spoil my good mood… :-) After a short breakfast (Actually only yoghurt today…), we immediately went out… As I was so busy before my departure that I couldn’t go to the hairdresser anymore, I wanted to get rid of my hair very soon, certainly considering the high temperatures… So this would be my first time to a Chinese hairdressers’! :-) Opposite of the place we stay is a hairdressers’ called “Yisi Fengshang”, on the first floor of a building, only reachable by a metal staircase on the outside of the building… Actually this made me think about the superb Tim Burton movie “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber on Elm Street”, with Johnny depp and Helena Bonham Carter! :-D It looked a bit as a modern version of Benjamin Barkers’ place! :-P We went in and got some odd looks… I wouldn’t be surprised if I was the first foreigner ever to set foot in this hairdressers’… ;-)


They actually started pretty fast, by washing my hair… Funny thing is that you really have to lie down while they wash your hair, which was a little unusual… After that, I was taken to the salon itself, where the girl who washed my hair actually started to massage my shoulders! :-0 (Actually, rumour says that in several Chinese hairdressers’ you could get much more than just a shoulder massage, but I can’t confirm that of course… ;-) Haha…) Then, a young guy came (Actually, all the staff was in their early twenties…), and after telling him that I wanted about half the size off, he started cutting… :-) He used his “tondeuse” (Automatic razor) for this most of the time, also for the parts which didn’t need to be too short, but he actually did a relatively good job… :-) Westerners’ hair is very different than Asian hair, so he obviously needed to concentrate all the time… In the end I got much more than I bargained for, actually, because instead of ½ I think about ¾ was off… :-D But I didn’t feel like complaining at all. Actually I quit liked it! ;-) (I’ve never been very fond of hair… It’s too warm, too irritating, too fussy…) And the price for all this? :-) 20,- RMB, which is around 2,- Euro! ;-)


Then we were off by double deck bus “Special 11” to a stop called “Meishuguan Bei”, just near China Art Gallery, in Dongcheng district (Downtown Beijing), from where we walked to Dongsi Bei Dajie, to have luch in one of my favorite restaurants in Beijing, the Korean Barbecue! :-P Ever since August 2004, when Fan brought me here for the first time, I’ve been addicted to this place… :-) Part of the food you order has to be barbequed by yourself on a grill above some glowing coal in a box, in the middle of the table (Normally a table for four…), and then dipped in a special sauce! We ordered soft beef with sesame seed and spicy lamb meet to put on the grill (Both served cold in thin slices, but already prepared with herbs…), and then also Octopus in Korean sweet & sour sauce, a corn salad, and some kind of sushi rice, but without the fish… (Just the rice in seaweed, and some pieces of vegetable inside…) This is really incredibly delicious stuff! I can’t wait to come back here! ;-)


After dinner, we walked back towards the area near China Art Gallery, but took a detour through a classical “Hutong” area… These are old fashioned local houses, only one level high, and sometimes even without any running water or sanitary! (There are communal toilets and bath-houses scattered around the area…) Actually these places are relatively poor, but it’s the beating heart of Beijing… Many of these neighbourhoods have already been torn down and replaced by some gleaming new high-rises, or sometimes they have been hidden from view by putting a large decorated wall in front of them! But most Westerners especially like exactly these areas, and I’m no exception… :-) Life really takes place in the street here… Old ladies cleaning the vegetables, children playing, someone getting a haircut while sitting in the middle of the street on a chair, everything seems possible here! :-) Sometimes, these places can be a little stinky (Mostly around those communal toilets…), but in general it’s very nice to walk around… Every corner or door seems to hold new surprises! :-)


So it was here that I decided to test my new “Holga” camera’s… :-) In each of them, I put a roll of Kodak E100VS in them (VS for “Vivid Saturation”) (Generally I like vivid saturation, but I don’t really like this film, the also vividly saturated Fuji Velvia is hundred times nicer!), and took some pictures. On 6 x 6 cm, you can only take 12 pictures on a roll of “120” film (16 on 4,5 x 6), so that didn’t take too long… :-) Immediately after taking the pictures, I could hand them over to the photoshop which I mentioned yesterday (“Photochance”, in Meishuguan Dong Lu, number 22), where they told me that they would already be ready at 17:00! (It was 14:00 at the moment!) That’s a nice surprise! :-D


Fan wanted to go to the “Cathay Bookstore” too, a place not far from that Photoshop where they have second hand books… She bought a book about “Empress Dowager Cixi”, but I was very amused to find a very old book in (old) Dutch about agriculture in the “Indische archipel” (Indonesia), I wonder who would buy such a book there… :-)


After that, we wanted to find some Jeans for me, and so we took bus 685 to the area near Beijing Zoo, where there is an enormous shopping mall for just clothes… :-) (“Dongwuyuan Fuzhuang Pifa Shichang”) It sounded promising, but the place was a madhouse! :-/ Very crowded, and there were maybe about 50 or more shops selling just Jeans… I was a bit flabbergasted by this enormous choice (Where to start!?), and furthermore it seemed impossible to try them on there… The shops were just stalls between three walls, actually… It was interesting to look around and watch the people there though… ;-) You could see the craziest fashion there! :-D Actually it occurred to me that the people in Beijing are starting to look much more colorful lately! :-D (Some of them even look like absolute scarecrows, to be honest! :-0 ) I will soon be able to tell you whether this is only the case in Beijing or whether it’s a national trend… ;-)


So we eventually just went out empty handed, and headed back to the Photoshop near China Art Gallery… We were there a bit too early, but the rolls were already ready! :-) As soon as we were in the open air, I looked at them, but was disappointed to see that both films were way too dark… :-( Holga advises 100 ASA film, which used, but the light was indeed very bad in Beijing today… the good news was that I didn’t seem to have any problems with light leaks, that the focus was all right, and that the typical Holga features were all there! :-) Sharp in the middle, softer to unsharp away from the center of the picture, vignetting, etc… :-) One picture was especially nice, but unfortunately way too dark… One time had apparently forgotten to wind up the film, and so two exposures were at the same place on the film, which made clear that I should indeed just double the exposure… As this is not possible with a Holga (It has just one setting (1/125), plus the “B-setting”), I would have to use more sensitive film… :-) I had several rolls of Kodak E200 with me (Colour slide film of 200 ASA), plus several rolls of BW400CN (Black & White negative film of 400 ASA), so I intended to do a new test, this time with those rolls… :-) But that’s for tomorrow… ;-)


After that, we went back by bus “Special 11”, or so we intended to do… :-/ When the bus appeared, it turned out that it was packed to the gills though, with people squeezed in like sardines… :-/ So we decided to take the next one… That one was as full as the first one, but was soon followed by a third one, with a lot of empty seats… :-) As usual, a nice Chinese dinner finished the day… :-)


By the way, don’t hesitate to tell me what you think of this blog! I myself have decided that I will include more pictures from now (The weather wasn’t very nice during the first days of my vacation, so I didn’t feel like taking a lot of pictures, but this blog seems to lack something without pictures…), but there might be more remarks? :-) (Positive or negative!)

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