Tianjin again

I’m sure you’ve all been wondering what hotel breakfasts are like in China.

Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but just in case you’ve been wondering, I’ve got answers for you.

First thing? They’re quite a bit different than American style hotel breakfasts. Yeah, they kind of look the same: gleaming chafing dishes, a tray full of bread, a refrigerator with yogurt in it. But there the resemblance ceases.

Those trays of orange and green?

First of all, for fresh fruit they had watermelon, which, while not too unusual, isn’t exactly standard breakfast fare in the West. On the other side, they had a tray of sliced cucumber–again, not exactly standard.

For main dishes, instead of the ubiquitous breakfast cereal to be found in America, they had fried rice, scrambled egg and tomato, meat-filled dumplings, boiled greens, and fried cucumbers. (Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of that angle of the buffet!)

But the really interesting part was the condiments.

You see that right–that’s all kinds of different fermented vegetables + soybeans.

I think Americans might just keel over and die if they were expected to eat that for breakfast. Other, than, of course, people like my mother, who cheerfully (mostly) eats sauerkraut every morning for breakfast. I’m pretty sure she skips the kimchi and fermented banana peppers, though.

Anyways, enough food. I’m sure your stomachs are all growling now with that kind of description.

We also saw this weird house in Tianjin (apparently one of the things it’s famous for) made completely out of pottery. It’s called the China House or something.

Looks a little poky, doesn’t it?

It made me think of fairy tales–can’t you just imagine an evil witch living in who lures children to her with all her fancy baubles on the outside of her house?

It was busy, too.

Think Hansel and Gretel, but with pretty blue vases instead of food. And I assure you, it looked even more strange in person.

After that, we went to church in this beautiful historic building, which had too many trees in the way to take a good picture of. But I tried.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral

Apparently every brick was imported from France to make this building–I’m not sure why Chinese bricks wouldn’t have worked just as well, though.

The interior (slightly crooked, of course)

And, like all western-style things built in China, it was painted a somewhat gaudy combination on the inside, though maybe this one is more attributable to the French. It’s been a while since I’ve studied my architecture, but I seem to remember something about Baroque and pre-Baroque architecture looking something like this in France, only fancier.

Domes and vaulting.

The blue and yellow did help to keep it light and airy feeling inside.

The organ!

And, of course, they had a pipe organ. Unfortunately, however, they seemed to have nobody to play the organ, so they settled for an electronic keyboard at the front of the church. It seems to me, though, that if you have a pipe organ in a place like China where there are extremely few, you ought to try to find someone to play it or teach others to play it. Hopefully they will in the future.

The dome from outside.

And that was our visit to Tianjin–a lovely city, with a breath of refreshing Western-style architecture (yes, I can mix my metaphors so horribly. You try to do it better!).

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