Monday, August 23, 2010

Beijing day two and three

Day two started as day one smoggy and hot after an early breakfast it was off to the supplier centre to finalize our orders and sign off on the quotes. After some serious haggling that seems to be a way of life for these traders we settled our purchases and I must say we shopped very well. This took a few hours so then it was off to lunch. Today we had lunch at the largest Chinese restaurant in Asia and this place was huge. It was like three giant malls three stories high all joined under the one roof. As you walk in they have the most amazing wall of fish tanks with their live seafood on display and what a display it was. Somethings even I was hard pressed to identify but very keen to eat. This restaurant has 1000 chefs and cooks, I have enough trouble with my 5. At one setting they can feed 10 000 people, mind blowing. We were shown to our private room and orders promptly taken and frosty cold beers delivered.
one section of the live seafood tanks.
our private room
sweet & sour pork.
house fried rice.
dumplings can not get enough of these little suckers.

Now the food may not look all that exciting but to have it at this restaurant how it is supposed to be cooked lifts the ordinary to the extraordinary. After lunch it was back to the supplier centre to catalogue our purchases and take a lot of photos. After that I was in for a treat I was packed into the car and the driver told to take me to the great wall for the afternoon. Now driving in the city I was getting used to the chaos but driving on the open highways at speed that was another thing all together. Lets just say they approach the concept of driving with the same reckless abandon whether it is city or highway driving. The same abrupt lane changes with no indication, making their own lanes as they go along & dodging all the trucks added an extra little thrill. I got to the wall in one piece and thankfully it was a bit cooler there but just as smoggy as you will see from the photos. I spent a few hours exploring the wall and surrounds and it was awesome. When you are standing next to it and realize how big it is you wonder how did they manage to build it in the first place. The area I went to was very touristy and there were thousands of people there thankfully they all seemed to be walking up the one section of the wall so I went up the other with very few people on it.

On the way to the wall this family group stopped me and I thought they wanted me to take a picture of all of them and I was happy to do this. But no I was the only western person there and I do not think this family get to meet many westerners so it ended up that they wanted to have their photos taken with me, how bizarre must be a once off. But no by the time I had walked to the wall, a walk of about ten minuets, I had been stopped by six other groups to have their photos taken with me as well. They all thought it was great and there was a lot of laughter and smiles and all were curious as to where I came from. This continued while I was walking on the wall and on the walk back to the car. Definitely one of the most bizarre but fun things to happen to me on this trip. Any way back to the wall the shear size of the wall is staggering and it is very well preserved, and I have got to say this no rabbits to be seen anywhere.

the less crowded section of the wall

one of the checkpoints that are on the wall every 500m or so
you can get an idea of how steep it is in some places from this photo.

I had a fantastic time at the wall and all the people I meet there were very friendly. Even though the great wall ended up being on of mans greatest follies it is still one of the wonders of the world. So after the walk back and a few bottles of water it was back to the city and the night market, mystery meat on a stick here I come.
Thankfully I slept on the way back to the city and missed all the near misses on the roads. So I got to the night market around 8.30pm and what a sight it was. One strip on this street went for a few hundred meters with stallholders all lined up with their products and grills, woks and fryers all bidding to get you attention and money. There was everything from snake, grasshoppers, scorpions, assorted bugs, fruit, baby pigeon and a lot of things that I had no idea what they were. So I started at one end and as I wanted to try a lot of different things I would buy one item have a taste or a couple of bites then give it to the people looking in the bins for food. And soon I had a few that just followed me around ready to take off my hands what I did not want. Now for those who say snake tastes like chicken you must be eating some funky chickens. Not the best and not the worst thing I ate that night. The best would be the braised baby pigeon and the worst some kind of  neon jellied mush in a bowl.

a selection of what was on offer incliding the braised baby pigeon.

more of the selection

 What a night what a day after eating my way down the stalls it was time for a cold beer then back to the hotel for a much needed shower then bed ready for our last day in Beijing.


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