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Tag: Beijing

Touristy, but fun, the Dong Hua Men Market in Beijing tempts you to go outside your safe food zone

Beijing Food Markets

Touristy, but fun, the Dong Hua Men Market in Beijing tempts you to go outside your safe food zone

Deep-fried Silkworms are full of protein and the cheapest fare available at the Dong Hua Men Night Market

If memorable for anything other than pure commerce, smog and the Great Wall, China has great food markets where one can find anything–seriously–anything and beyond. Both on major thoroughfares and hidden in and around the back alley hutong which populate the crowded capital, the best of Beijing is not to be had in touristy restaurants, but rather, as is usual across Asia, on the street. During a recent trip to Beijing I happened on two of the most interesting, crowded and completely different markets which mark the bustling metropolis as a gastronomer’s paradise: the relatively expensive and touristy Dong Hua Men Night Market and the locals only Sihuan Day Market, both located within one kilometer of one another, yet residing worlds apart.

Beijing Food Markets

The Dong Hua Men Night Market is located adjacent to the Forbidden City off Wangfujing road in the heart of the tourist center, hence the high(er) prices than one might pay for a meal at any one of the great local restaurants specializing in downhome Beijing fare. Known for its relatively exotic fare it attracts gastronomers ranging from the merely curious to the adventurous. Starting at five for the simplistic silkworm skewers add ranging up to fifty yuan for the tasteless snakeskin, it is a smörgåsbord of visually interesting yet generally tasteless–due to everything being deep-fried in the same salty wok oil–exoticisms. Though fun to take part in the boisterous atmosphere of the overwhelmingly red-clad touts (whose English ranges from the straightforward “Money!” to the ubiquitous “You snake buy now!”) the enjoyment stops when realizing a more satisfying and delicious meal can be had for pennies just a few subway stops north near the Xihai lake district of Xinjiekou’s Sihuan day market.

Sihuan Market in central Beijing (Manny Santiago)

Parking lot at Sihuan Market in central Beijing

Sihuan day market is, touristically, relatively unknown, yet situated smack in the middle of the capital, down a lonely hutong alleyway just northwest of the rear exit of the Forbidden City. It’s worth going to if only for the fact that you are unlikely to find another foreign face in the entire place. what you are going to find is a surfeit of inexpensive fruits, vegetables, teas, tofu products, noodles, meats, warm and delicious pancakes and breads, as well as an entire section of “off brand” electronics, clothes, shoes and locally produced artisanal goods. Despite the sweat and grime one might object to surrounding the market itself it is well worth a few hours of aimless wandering. I found myself laden with two heavy bags of fresh fruit, dried dates, readily edible vegetables, hot and fresh egg pancakes and a coconut milkshake, all for under five dollars. Hands down best bang for your Chinese buck.

Modern Japan with the Pinhole Holga

Modern Japan with the Pinhole Holga

In part VII of the series Manny Santiago looks at Modern Japan via the Pinhole Holga Panoramic. Generally available in the 120 and 35mm format, Holga pinholes have essentially the same bodies with the lens replaced by a pinhole. This lensless body produces infinite depth of field, meaning everything in the scene will be reasonably in focus.

The family of pinhole cameras has a base of the Holga 120PC without the lens while the Holga WPC (Wide Angle Panoramic) shoots 120 film in unique panoramic sizes; either 6x9cm or 6x12cm format for a super wide angle view. There is the Holga 135PC, modeled after the Holga 135mm camera and there is the Holga 3D Stereo Pinhole camera which shoots two pinhole images per shutter for dual side by side images. These images can then be mounted to view in 3D with a 3D viewer.

The basic principle of pinhole photography is that light passes through a pinhole rather than a lens to expose the film directly. The image on the film will be reversed but the advantage is there is no optical distortion so there is no need to focus and the angle of view is much greater.

Both a tripod and cable release are necessary for use with pinhole photography due to increased exposure times. Since there are no standard exposure times for pinhole photography, all approximate exposure times are to be used as a starting point. The key is to bracket.

HOLGA WPC & 3D PC f/135
Sunny – ½ sec.
Overcast – 2 sec.
Sunrise/Sunset – 18+ sec

Modern Japan with the Pinhole Holga

The Modern Japan Gallery

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