The Great Wheel of China

By Budget Travel
October 3, 2012

Set to debut in 2009, the Beijing Great Wheel (see the computer-generated image above) will reach about 682 feet into the sky. The Ferris wheel will have 48 air conditioned observation capsules, each of which can carry up to 40 passengers, according to a Reuters news report. Prices haven't been set, but officials were suggesting 6 yuan, or about 80 cents, per person.

EARLIER A new cookbook offers a taste of China.

RELATED's Beijing 2008 Olympic Games coverage.

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A Chinese feast for all the senses

One of the things I've noticed as the editor of our Trip Coach column is that regardless of who's traveling or where they're going, the couples and families we send on trips eventually ask the same question: Where should we eat? I get it. Food matters—the way it brings people together, gives us insight into other cultures, reminds us to slow down, or, when it's really good, completely stops us in our tracks. This is never more true than when we travel. If you're like me, your answer to the "how was your trip?" question inevitably comes around to the food: the perfect crêpe with Nutella in France; the käsekrainer (cheese-stuffed sausage) and hot spiced wine that kept you warm during a sub-zero Christmas fair in Vienna; the delicious, stick-to-your-ribs marathon dinners your Hungarian hostess prepared to fatten you up. What we eat, and whom we eat it with, shapes our trip and, ultimately, our impression of the place. I'm thinking about all of this because a of cookbook that hits bookstore shelves on Wednesday, Nov. 8: My China: A Feast for All the Senses, by Kylie Kwong (Viking Studio; recently $37 from It's gorgeous and full of really amazing-looking recipes, but that is true for a lot of cookbooks. What I love about this one is that it recognizes that food and place are inextricably linked. The author—whom my editor tells me has a great restaurant in Sydney—traveled to ten cities in China and Tibet for her research, and she devotes a good chunk of the book to recounting her journey. Among the recipes for dumplings, rice congee, and soy-braised pork belly, we get her observations about the people, the history, and the culture of China and Tibet. (If Kwong weren't a good writer, this wouldn't work, but she is, so it does.) There are also pages and pages of stunning photographs—of the dishes, of course, but also of people, landscapes, markets, and street scenes. My China is food the way it should be: a really important part of a much bigger picture. Here's one of the recipes I'm dying to try: Rare Beef and King Prawn Salad with Soft-Boiled Eggs [From My China: A Feast for All the Senses, by Kylie Kwong. Slightly re-formatted from the book version.] Marinade »2 garlic cloves, finely chopped »1 inch piece ginger, finely chopped »2 tablespoons brown sugar »1/4 cup shao hsing cooking wine »1 tablespoon light soy sauce »1 teaspoon sesame oil Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl. Then add: »10 oz. best-quality beef fillet Mix well. Cover, place in refrigerator, and leave to marinate for 1 hour. Remove beef from marinade and sear on a hot grill pan or in a heavy-based frying pan for 4 minutes, then turn over and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all salad and herb leaves in a bowl. »1 handful watercress »1 handful baby spinach »1 handful mint leaves »1 handful cilantro »1 handful Vietnamese mint leaves »2 tablespoons peanut oil »8 uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined but with tails left intact »2 free-range eggs, soft-boiled and peeled Next, combine all dressing ingredients in another bowl and mix well. Dressing »1 tablespoon brown sugar »2 tablespoons light soy sauce »1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar »1/2 teaspoon sesame oil »1/3 cup best-quality extra virgin olive oil Heat oil in a hot frying pan or wok and sear prawns for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Toss salad with a third of the dressing and transfer to a serving platter. Cut beef into 1/4-inch slices and arrange over salad, along with prawns. Carefully cut eggs in half and place on top of salad, then drizzle with remaining dressing and serve immediately. Serves 4 as a starter. * Vietnamese mint, also know as laksa leaf, can be found at Asian supermarkets; if it is unavailable, just add a little more cilantro and mint to the salad. MORE FOR FOODIES Simple Paella Recipe from the classic Spanish cookbook 1080 Recipes, newly in English translation this month.. Vietnam: Stealing Buddha's Dinner Eating on tour with the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand Montreal: The favorite restaurants of the bloggers behind "An Endless Banquet."


Windjammer cancellations continue

Windjammer Barefoot Cruises has long been known for a party-hearty philosophy (its first boat was named Hangover). But the company has recently been hit by various financial problems, as covered in a recent Budget Travel feature story. This morning, the Miami Herald reported that Windjammer has officially canceled Legacy's November 3 and November 10 cruises. The company now says it will resume its voyages—which haven't sailed in weeks—on November 17. [via Miami Herald.] EARLIER: Windjammer hits a rough patch. ADVICE What to do if your tour operator goes out of business. Photo by Digitalfilmphoto via Flickr and Creative Commons


The Museum of Chinese in America

The newly renamed Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) will move to a different location in New York City next fall, and last night I attended a dinner that helped to raise funds for the new, Maya Lin-designed structure. Formerly called the Museum of Chinese in the Americas, MOCA is seeking submissions for its StoryMap, an online archive that links personal stories with Google Maps. The website has already drawn stories and photos from people who immigrated from mainland China, Hong Kong, Cambodia, South Korea, and Ecuador. There are also submissions from ABCs (American-Born Chinese). The new 14,000-square-foot gallery space will occupy the 200 block on Centre Street between Chinatown and Nolita, increasing the size of the museum by more than five times. The existing venue at 70 Mulberry St. will be converted into an archival research center. MOCA is also planning to digitize its collection of 60,000 letters, photos, and artifacts. Until the new building is finished, MOCA is still open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 12 to 6 p.m. at 70 Mulberry St. The museum also offers weekly Chinatown walking tours in English. Tours can be given in Chinese upon request. 1 p.m. Saturdays, $12 adults, $10 students/seniors. 212/619-4785,, admission $2 adults, $1 students, $1 seniors 65 plus, free for children under 12 and on Fridays. MORE BY AMY CHEN A visit to the Balloon Fiesta. Photo by MarcalandDavis via Flickr and Creative Commons


Tokyo's dynamic fashion districts

Hitting bookstores today, The Tokyo Look Book offers a colorful peek at what the kids are wearing these days on the sidewalks and catwalks of the capital city. Check out our slide show of images from the book. It captures the agony and ecstasy of high school, with a uniquely Japanese twist. The author, British anthropologist Philomena Keet, recently stopped by our office to chat about the making of the book ($30, Keet listed for us the must-see neighborhoods for travelers who want to see Tokyo's street styles for themselves. Here are the areas to head for and what to expect when you get there: Shibuyu and Harajuku are the main centers of Tokyo's youth fashion scenes. Weekends—when all the kids change from school uniforms to full subculture gear—are especially vibrant. Make sure to check out the groups standing on Jingubashi Bridge next to the Harajuku station, wander around the backstreets of Harajuku, and visit Shibuyu 109 mall, where many of the trendiest boutiques are located. As a little antidote to all the frills and youth of Harajuku, check out the nearby Aoyama area; you'll find avant garde high fashion boutiques, such as the Japanese label, Comme des Garçons. Keet also recommends the districts of Daikanyama and Naka-Meguro for great street style without the tourists and wannabes that now clog Harajuku's sidewalks. Marunouchi is where to find a lot of sophisticated, high-fashion, international boutiques (think Louis Vuitton) and salary, or business, men and women. Ginza is another upscale neighborhood to spot more high-end fashion. Akihabara is where the otaku, or geek subculture, like to hang out. It is also know for its high concentration of "maid cafés," a business phenomenon in which male customers are served obsequiously by women dressed as French maids. Another phenomenon, particularly popular in the Shinjuku and Raponggi neighborhoods, is the host club, a nightclub that's the inverse of a geisha house. Women pay extravagant cover fees and drink prices to exchange pleasantries with good-looking, well-dressed, entertaining young men. Keet warns travelers that an evening's bill might easily be over a thousand dollars. "Typically, the clientele for host clubs are women who are night workers themselves. They pay to be treated well, and are often the only ones who can afford it." Luckily, passing these hosts on the street, as one often does in these neighborhoods, is entertainment enough—and free. You can find a lot of vintage stores—often stocked with t-shirts imported from the United States—in Koenji and Shimokitazawa. Youth decked out as rockabillies hang out in Yoyogi Park, during its famous Sunday flea market. MORE ON TOKYO:Dining in Tokyo slide show. Tokyo Air/Hotel for $929 per person, including five nights' accommodations, and sightseeing, for travel by Dec. 5, 2007.