Off the Tourist Track

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There’s so much to say about what I’ve seen so far, it’s hard to know where to start. We’ve been here 3 full days and we’ve done some tourist things, but also visited some friends. I’ve drank no less than 35 cups of tea — most very small — and had 5 incredible meals. Last night, we went for “hot pot.” There’s a franchise restaurant that has a long counter top that winds its way through the room. There are holes in the counter in front of where each person sits, where the pot goes. Underneath, there is a shelf where the hot plates sit — this place must have a huge power bill! Anyways, you choose what broth you want (I chose “hot and sweet”) and then what types of meat or vegetables you want. Then, you drop them into the simmering broth, fish them out a few minutes later (depending on what it is) and enjoy! Yum. We also went for Korean barbeque, where there’s a hole in the centre of the table too. A man brings red-hot coals in a metal pail, and drop it into the hole, which is then covered by grates of various descriptions where the meat you have ordered is cooked. I think usually they bring all the stuff and let you do it yourself, but since we were foreigners, the waitress stayed and did it for us. She was very cute (all the waitresses are!), feeding us pieces of meat as they were done. We also went for “real Chinese” food, which was awesome! It was sort of tucked between and in several buildings, and on our way down the back-alley-like entryway, we passed a room full of huge aquariums and some really huge fish! I was officially in heaven at the first taste of curry lamb, and the chrysanthemum tea washed things down nicely! Oh, I could go on and on… I’ve also seen live fish, just slightly smaller than their aquariums, at the grocery store, along with live shrimp. I stood among a group of elderly Chinese ladies waiting to order breakfast food at a counter, and was surprised at the amount of deep-fried food. And they have many types of breads/pasta/flat bread/pastries. I’m an eggs-for-breakfast kind of person and I haven’t had them once (although Darren did have a sort of omelette which I will have to try next time). 🙂

We went to a tiny tea house and art gallery that a friend of Darren owns, which was nice. We chatted about what life is like in China, and sipped tiny cup after tiny cup of tea. I loved the lychee black tea, which was sweet and delicious. They all were, except this one very strong Mongolian one (I think), which made my lips pucker and everyone laugh. It was nice to sit and just be, watching people walk by.

Well, we are going to the Great Wall today, and everyone is almost ready, so I will have to leave my description of the back roads and taxi drivers for another day. Oh, yes, and the bathrooms too. And Tiananmen Square!

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