If you're wanting to start from the beginning, cause it's a very good place to start, then head to the Expedition page. It even has a map now of places featured in the posts!
... so if you have gotten your good self comfortable and a cuppa tea, or even better a
Saturday 18th July 2009: part two
We were taken back into the city for lunch, where we were treated to a dance while we ate. We were also given a red bit of wool that was tied round our wrist, for good luck. I still have that bit of wool actually, its tied to one of the inside zips of my bags
By the by, they served some glorious fried golden dumpling thingys that we were to dip in condensed milk. If anyone happens to know what they are called I would be eternally grateful although my waistline may eternally suffer... but that is a risk I am willing to take.
Now, I should warn you about a particular game that we played for the vast majority of the trip. I will admit it is rather childish... and kind of sets the tone of the group really... the game was to say "badger" when you fart. I have since been told it is badger cause its supposed to smell like a badger climbed up there and died... lovely eh? I am dragging this conversation into the blog purely because it was during lunch that we tried to find out what the Chinese word for badger was. Serena, our guide, had never heard of a badger before in her life, which prompted some interesting descriptions:
... it's like a black marmot, but a bit bigger... o'h and with white go faster stripes
... or think of a rat-panda.
Somehow Serena didn't manage to understand what on earth we were talking about. Go figure!
It was off to the Hutongs next. They're the ancient residential areas of Beijing, which are still in use today. The best way to get round the Hutongs is on a riskshaw, and man can those guys get round/over/through obstacles, be it roadworks, piles of rubble, anything... they would care not a jot.
*rumble rumble rumble*
Ooo look at that!
how cool is thi... wait, is that a hole in the road?...
*holds on for dear life*
*prays to God, Allah, Buddha... anyone that will listen*
During our tour of the Hutongs we paused by the gateway to one house so that one of the guides could describe some of its features.
It wasn't until after the rest of the rickshaw ride that we actually got to explore behind one of these gateways. We were taken into a families home so that we could see how a traditional Chinese house is laid out.
The traditional style of house is courtyards with surrounding rooms/buildings.
I will admit that I wasn't entirely comfortable with this part of the Hutongs tour, even though the family were very welcoming, it still felt like the whole... look at the poor Chinese people type of tourism.
But at least it wasn't for long, we had a tower to climb!
|The Bell Tower|
|The Drum Tower- but we didn't go in it|
|You can see them struggling with the steps way at the back?|
|And that's all there just to hold it up!|
... so bell makers remember, if nothing is working right for you today, then you're probably just missing the secret ingredient... dead daughter.
We were then given the choice of getting the coach back to the hotel, or making our own way there. Needless to say, most of us opted to make our own way. While walking back to the hotel we found a gorgeous little area of Beijing. It was what we all had in mind when they said that we would be going to the Silk Road Market the day before.
It was only unfortunate that this touristy style of china was also accompanied by tourists prices! £3 (yes pounds!) for a can of Sprite... and you thought that the vending machine at work was bad
Things I learned today:
- Hailing a taxi is difficult in China, they just think that you are waving, wave back at you and keep on driving
- They are rather curious about white people, and will stare... even in the public toilets... which have no doors
- You can get viennetta ON A STICK! why don't we have this in the UK?! lets get with the program people...
- A stair master would be a pointless present for an evil spirit
- If in doubt, chuck your daughter into a vat of molten metal
- Beths shoes can fit entirely inside Eds...