Visit to China - Day 2 Beijing
Today I got to visit the Forbidden City. It is difficult to explain how huge a site it is. I was going to spend a lot of time explaining the dimensions and scope of it, but I'll be lazy and just insert a link to the wikipedia site. It is clear that the Chinese government has spent a great deal of time and effort to renovate the facility. Some of the throne rooms are still closed for renovations, so I missed the opportunity to see how a University should treat its faculty. However, I did learn how the faculty should properly kowtow to the dean. According to my host, Professor Llew Gibbons who is in China as a Fulbright lecturer, the coffee shop in the Emperor's garden used to be a Starbucks, but is now a locally branded Chinese coffee shop. The prices remain about the same (I did not have a cup, so I don't know how it tastes). So much for American trademark hegemony. On the flip side, Kentucky residents will be proud to know that KFC is the largest fast food chain restaurant in China, with over 2,500 outlets (including some Pizza Huts), according to the China Daily newspaper. In an article I read it said that most of Yum! Brands profits will come from China this year.
Professor Gibbons and I did have Peking Duck at the Li Qun Roast Duck restaurant off the beaten path in a houtong area. A "houtong" is a residential neighborhood from the Qing dynasty, where four homes share a common courtyard. While they were prevalent throughout Beijing in the past, many have been destroyed in preparation for the Olympic games, being replaced by more modern facilities. This houtong is located right near the Qianmen gate area near Tiananmen Square. The food was terrific. It was not your typical touristy Beijing Duck restaurant. Afterward, we walked around Tiananmen Square, and were accosted by vendors every 5 feet. I finally broke down and bought what I believe to be fully licensed 2008 Beijing Olympics kites and a hat. No really. I'll post a picture when I can.