Saturday, 6 November 2010

Beijing (31st of August)

Setting off early we tried with moderate success to beat the crowds to the Forbidden Palace. There we found enough roofs to keep me happy, joined the Chinese in peering through windows, looked at the trees with trunks forced to fork, got lost at times, avoided the foul smelling herbicide they were spraying on any grass that was still alive, and saw a lot of pretty pottery.

In the evening we made our way through the dark streets of Beijing to a vegetarian restaurant, because there was no kitchen at the Peking Hostel contrary to what might be written on the website. Despite the dark the Chinese were out in force exercising on the exercise machines in the parks, walking, cycling, playing this game where they have to hit a shuttlecock with their feet, shopping and eating. The restaurant wasn’t exactly crowded though, just us, another European traveller and four Chinese friends tucking into a plethora of different dishes. We were given a huge menu book with glossy pictures of all the dishes and their details in both English and Chinese. It took us a while before we decided on the dumplings, sweet and sour vegetarian pork and some potato balls. The Chinese do not make dumplings anywhere near as well as the Mongolians (or whoever they import them from) and eating them became a bit of an ordeal. Fortunately the sweet and sour ‘pork’ was delicious and so was the potato, and it was all very cheap.

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