Oh how I wish you are here today with me. Been going around Beijing for the past two days and all I think of is how delighted you will be experiencing what I had been seeing the past couple of days. Exploring China and Beijing is something we should be doing together.
For all I care, this is the first time I am in China. Being in Shenzhen so many years ago for just a day trip from Hong Kong doesn’t count. This one is the real trip.
I am surprised I can blend in more than I thought I could. That is until I open my mouth. For the most part, I get along better speaking English and pretending not to speak Mandarin at all than if I were to try to speak my weird Mandarin. LOL!
At the airport, I wanted to be adventurous to take the subway to the hotel. It is so cheap. Each use of the subway regardless of the distance is just 2 RMB which is like 30 cents! Can you believe that? LOL! Actually it is a bit more expensive taking the subway from the airport to the city. There is a surcharge. But at 30 cents, it is so ridiculously cheap. I keep wondering why a two zone transit in Vancouver is, what, $3.50?
Actually, good thing I decided not to take the train. It is super crowded and it is unbelievably packed. I won’t be able to make it with my luggage and all. So I decided to take a taxi.
At the taxi stand, people does not respect lines. For the most part people does but a few bad apples could ruin everything. Anyway getting a taxi is easy at the airport. And yes, people smoke in the public. So I know you will hate it.
My taxi driver was a chatty man. I tried to speak to him in Mandarin and we got along quite well. He was patient when I tell him once every two minute “Woh Bu Min Bai” (I don’t understand). When I told him that I am Canadian and that my family left China about 120 years ago, he told me that I am a “Wah Qiao” (Overseas Chinese). He asked me which province I was from and so I told him that mum and dad are Fujianese. The one thing I did not expect to hear from him was that China will “take me home” if ever I get into trouble … giving me the example how Chinese in Libya was rescued. It was a strange feeling to hear that, although from a taxi driver.
The past two days made me think about my heritage as a Chinese and how all these fits togther. I had never considered myself as a true Chinese and for sure I had never felt any allegiance to the country of China. But in my muddled mind right now, there are a lot of questions for sure.
The picture above was taken just a block away from my hotel. It is the CCTV HQ building, I think. Amazing structure! I sure don’t want to work in the section of the building where there is nothing below. Next door to this was a all burnt out building. LOL! I remember reading about how they had a fireworks celebration and light up the building … and ended up burning it down!
After having a shower, it was already about 3:00 PM. I decided to walk around the block to get some food. I wasn’t really hungry but my first act has to be food.
There were a LOT of eating places of all types. Fancy ones, run down ones, food court, fast food type … they are everywhere. I am not kidding … seeing that makes me want to cry! So much food and so little tummy space. I am talking about just a small block and already there were a number of places I wanted to go to already … and I know for true Beijingers they will laugh at me for chosing some of them. Hey, I don’t see those type of varieties in Vancouver.
I was very hesitant going into a restaurant. So I chose a friendly looking one. One that has English words on the signboard. This is a random choice really.
Hey, it was not that bad. The waitress did not even bat an eyelid. Yeah, I fit right in. LOL! They kept telling me one thing after another and I don’t know what they were saying half the time.
This place looks like it is part of a chain of restaurants from the way all the pictures are taken and all.
The table mat has snack items. Interesting stuff but am focused only on their #1 item.
It is this one above. This one looks like their money dish. It’s the first item on the menu and there was even posters of this in the entrance. So, I got this.
It is a drink and a bowl of noodles for 45 RMB … which makes it less than $7.00 only. Hey nice thing is that there is no taxes and no tips. What you see on the menu is what you pay for. How nice it would be if we have the same thing too in Canada — no tax, no tips.
The system here is different. The protocol in this restaurant is:
- You place the order
- You are given the receipt
- You pay
- You get the food
- You leave
- And they yell at you as you leave the place (hehehe … saying thank you).
This is so amazing, honey. Oh I wished you were here to taste this too. I know you will like it … and you will drink every drop of the soup without leaving me any. 🙂
It looks so beautiful and I was thinking how it looked exactly like it is on the menu. The serving is as large as you see in Vancouver’s beef noodle soup. It sure smell real good.
The soup is light and spicy. I did not get the MSG after effect and so I think they did not (or did not put much). We talked about the clear soup and the busy soup type … remember? Well, they served a side dish of the sour mustard thingy on the side to make it the busy type — it’s your choice. I added that in and it changes the taste.
I swear even the noodles by itself is tasty. Gosh, they do make great noodles. I am not imagining this. I thought I can even eat this without anything else. Well, just with a little jhup.
The beef is something to marvel. There are big slabs of it like the ones above. Tender and soft to the chew. Too bad this one does not have tendons which I like very much. Their menu said that they uses only the choicest of beef cut for this dish.
The side dishes above came with the combo. The middle black one is awesome. It is like a wood ear but it is not too. I went to another restaurant today and saw the same thing and the menu said it is baby black fungus. I like this … crunchy like wood ear but have more substance.
The plum drink is a refreshing accompaniment to the noodles. I like these sort of non-sweet drinks.
I was happy with this meal. Very happy as a matter of fact. I know there are thousands of better places within Beijing and if this is just an indication of what is to come, I am truly excited. I wish you are here!
I took the train to Tianamen Square. Most of the area is closed already since it is already past 4:00 PM. But there a LOT of people … and a LOT of cars.
It was a strange feeling seeing this place with my very own eyes. Besides the Great Wall, this is the enduring symbol of China.
The Tianamen Square is actually the space above. It is huge but was not as immense as I thought it would be. It is still large though and is a long walk from one end to another. There are lots of police and military people standing in attention through out the whole area. No machine guns. LOL! But they hand out little Chinese flags for children. I wanted one too but I dare not ask. 🙂
Surprisingly, the people who are here are overwhelmingly locals. I thought that there would be a lot more foreign tourists.
Next to Tianamen Square is the National Museum of China. You know I like museums and this is definitely a place I wanted to visit. As a matter of fact, I went there on the second day! I’ll tell you more later about this place.
You know, I expected to see hazy skies in Beijing but the air was much more cleaner than what I read on the papers. The weather is actually great here at this time of the year. The air is very dry and so it’s not uncomfortable walking around a lot.
The above is not Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is technically behind these gates. They call it the Gate of Heavenly Peace. People were milling outside of the place and no one was allowed in anymore. I will definitely check this place out more closely and will spend a full day there on my off days.
The jet lag was beginning to catch up with me and I decided to head back to the hotel. I’ll tell you more tomorrow!