Last weekend the gang and I caught the tail end of the China National Gallery's exhibition of 敦煌 (Dun huang) cave paintings. The show was pleasantly surprising and well put together. It was also completely jam-packed, making the whole event more of a carnival scene with security guards constantly chanting " 不可以拍照!" (Photography is not allowed!) Still, I was glad to see all of Beijing out in force appreciating the displays.

Note that most of the paintings below were not originals, but copies produced from the cave walls. Also, the caves were very "recreated" looking, but still very effective. This didn't detract from their meaningfulness and instead made it all the more imperative to visit the caves of 山西 (shan1 xi1) and 陕西 (shan3 xi1) provinces.

Outside of 中国美术馆 (China National gallery)

Pictures with a Guardian of Heaven

A surprised man near a smaller, original cave painting.

A Buddha figure in a recreated cave scene.

A powerful figure with it's face eroded away.

An elegant, extremely Indian looking sculpture of a bodhisattva.

A display of celling and wall paintings among a surge of people.

One of my favorites; a painting of a hunt with Chinese angels and Guanyin with her attendant.

A spectacular map of Shanxi province, absolutely huge and detailed with map information on various scenic spots and temples. I could read some of the text easily, which is nearly 1000 years old. (Gotta love Chinese!)

A "sleeping Buddha." Actually, this figure is a dying Buddha reaching Nirvana. He was tremendous and surrounded by paintings. Hard to photograph and describe.


Beijing National Grand Theater

A couple of nights ago Ariel and I went to see the Shanghai Philharmonic at The National Grand Theater. The building is designed by French architect Jean Andreu and was terribly controversial among natives. The locals called it the 鸟蛋, or "bird's egg," and felt it didn't fit in with the Soviet architecture and traditional palatial, stately parks that surround Tian'anmen. Still, the results defy expectations.

It's just incredibly breathtaking, especially at night. The interior is covered in dark wood slats that reach from the ceiling down and several different spaces and complexes for several performance spaces, a store and cafe. The interior even smells very new; kind of like expensive wood. It doesn't seem quite complete yet.

The performance itself was fine, sort of a greatest hits of Western Classical music (a lot of Brahms) performed competently. (I don't have an ear for a lot of this music, I'm afraid.) The space could honestly outshine the performances that take place inside because it's JUST that impressive. Later this and next month will be Puccini's "Turandot," which is very fitting and something Ariel really wants to see.

***On a side note, the next visitors to Beijing are getting a ticket to a revolutionary Chinese opera (or Beijing opera) on me!


(Photos from The Guardian)
The exterior at night. It really looks this beautiful. The outside is surrounded by a shallow lake, which is ironic given Beijing's drought problems.

The area assigned for music performances. It had a surprisingly intimate feel. This photograph was taken near our exact seats.



Lamb meat sold in a Ugyur shop

The new subway line 5

My neighborhood.

I live in an old Beijing district know as Dongzhimen(东直门)which is actually the historic Eastern gate to the city. Much of the old history is lost, but the area beyond the gate entrance is still known for hot pot restaurants. This street, now called Dongzhimen nei, is where I live. Beijing residents know this same street as gui jie (鬼街,or "ghost street") and it's filled with places to eat, neon signs and red lanterns. The Russian embassy is very close, so the area has a small Russian feel with a few restaurants and shops catering to these diplomats or expats.

What's the history of your neighborhood?


I eviscerated and cooked this rabbit over the weekend. He was gooey and shiny and filled with purplish orbs and slippery, clotted blood. He was then chopped up and cooked with lots of chili and sichuan peppercorn. Deliciously gamey, rich meat.