14 July 2009

Beijing - Modernity and Heat

After 36h in a train (where we could have stayed more to relax in a nice bed!), here we are back to civilisation – 100% with pollution, noise, strong smells of any kinds of food, crowd, tube but also and especially the good side with good food, all amenities, people speaking English and who smile, luxury of a shower a day (even 2 if we want to!), shops everywhere and shop attendants so nice when they are not trying to negotiate the price!

Here it is hot, at least 35 degrees and the humidity rate is above 90%! We cannot see the blue sky as it is covered with a thick yellow fog – translate pollution...

In the atmosphere, Tao our couchsurfer came to pick us up at the tube station Si Hui on line 1.

He took us to his flat on 16th floor of a building (not great when you are afraid of heights), it is luxury for us, very modern and very well equiped. There is even a washing machine and we can have showers whenever we want, running water and hot water as we need! We have our own bedroom, all of this is hard to believe!

We finish this unbelievable day by shopping at the Tesco around the corner and we went out for dinner with Tao to have a hot pot. This dish from Sichuan area is similar to a boeuf bourguignon except you cook the meat and also vegetables in a vegetable stock positioned in the middle of the table.

After this great introduction, we spent 7 days in Beijing visiting, walking around, cycling in the streets clearly made for bikes, hike, sweat in the 35 degrees and 90% humidity, try the food specialty, prepare our trip to Japan (thanks Tao for helping us book the plane tickets), shopping, boat along the lake. Etc.

We saw the Great Wall in Huan Hong, the forbidden city, a lot of temples including the Lama temple, the temple of Heaven, Tian an Men Square, some Hutongs (side streets used mainly by cycles and tuk tuks), the Behai Park, the Lotus Market, the Silk market to do some cheap shopping if we managed to negotiate the prices right down (up to 10 times the asked price)!

We ate Hot Pot (yes, again), chinese noodles, we had dinner in a seriously nice vegetarian restaurant with Elena (former exchange student that I had met in Australia in 1998)and her brother. That buddist restaurant follows the evolution of Chinese culture that tend to see people eat meat. On the menu there is some pekin duck, barbecue, goat cheese or even monkey's heads! The latter is in fact a vegetarian copy of sweet and sour pork – incredibly close to the real taste! But we also had some less luxury food after eating in the streets – barbecue meat, vegetarian wraps, candy fruits on a stick, fried dough on a stick – well ate quite nice food again. No diet yet!

After a week in Beijing, we feel relaxed. It is a very nice city, we could even live there if it was not for the heat and the pollution. We are now ready to visit Japan, next step on our plan, leaving on 14th July for Tokyo!

1 comment:

  1. Ah!!! Je suis verte, j'avais pas vu le blog! Bon ben j'ai plein de lecture à rattraper alors... je m'y mets de suite!
    Bisous à tous les deux...