I wish that I had a super good digital camera because I could get some very interesting shots from my bedroom window. These homes have no heat and only whatever electricity they can find from nearby and pirate. Looking down you can get a view of the whole setup and not cause any attention. Having a foreigner (probably even a Chinese person who doesn't "belong" there) going down the narrow corridor that leads to this interior courtyard of housing is something that is immediately noticed. Very hard to blend.
Leek and sour cabbage season is approaching, and people have it outside EVERYWHERE to dry. It hangs out of windows, rests on sidewalks and streets, and is constantly underfoot. There was even some out on the bank steps. If I had to eat like the locals, I would lose quite a bit of weight. I would have to be really hungry to want some of the stuff they eat.
The other night I did go out with some consulate people to a Uighur restaurant. (Look up Uighur in a search engine if you don't know about this Chinese minority). I ate bread and fatty lamb kababs until I was ready to burst. SO good! Right now just thinking about it I want to walk over and grab a few for lunch. At 12 cents a kabob it is hard to go wrong! It is a local restaurant, but Uighur food and not typical of Northeast China so I don't know that it counts as eating like a local.