Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hanggai and Hou Hai

I have a photo album on my computer entitled "Hanggai and Hou Hai". That aptly describes last weekend for us, at it was truly memorable. Ace and i kicked off Friday night kinda relaxed, but with a nice ribbon tied around it. We met up with some friends at the Tiny Salt Coffee Club for some live music, Hanggai, one of the local bands that have swept up the foreigners and Chinese alike. Hanggai is traditional Mongolian music, powered by up-beat rhythms, and rounded off with haunting melodies, often led by the resounding bass of throat-signing. Words fall short of capturing their live show, but fortunately there are some better options to a lengthy, poetic description:
  • Tao's blog has 7 (yes, seven!) videos of the performance that evening.
  • Their myspace page has 4, (yes, four!) songs from their latest album.
  • They are doing a weeklong US tour with 6 (yes, six!) shows starting this week. One of their stops is Sept 23rd in Chicago. Check out their myspace page for details.

This guy is their leader...

... but this throat singing dude in purple is my favorite.

Saturday was interesting... while most of the Ultimate Frisbee community went to Tianjin for the day, Ace and i stayed in Beijing. It turned out to be a great decision. It was another beautiful day, one of many recently. We mounted our bikes and headed to Hou Hai, an area Therese had not yet explored. We started with a long loop around the two main lakes, a solid 20 minute ride. We stopped to chat up the locals and take a few pictures, before enjoying lunch at the famous Hutong Pizza.

After salad, pizza, beer and wine, we were ready for adventure, which in Hou Hai, means either window-shopping or expensive drinks at a lakeside bar. We opted for window-shopping. Also, tea-tasting. Most tea shops have a quaint little room in back where you can sample any tea for free in a comfortable environment. We did just that, and learned a little about teas in the process. Our Chinese has improved enough now to where we don't feel totally awkward communicating with a native, and that opens up new opportunities everywhere. We bought some Ginseng Oolong Tea. It's delightful.

After all that, we took our own personal tour of the hutongs by bike. We almost caved and accepted a discounted tour from one of those cool bike taxi guys, but instead, we decided to just follow them on our bikes.

The real gem was this awesome little hutong house with a tree growing out of it. Literally, the house is built right around the tree.

If you look closely or click on this picture, you can even see a clock hanging from it.



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