A little summer home
Trip Start Dec 01, 2004
13Trip End Dec 10, 2004
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I have to admit that I am about fed up with Ron. He is being a little controlling. He is quite a bit older than we are but we were not looking to him for mentoring. We had invited him along as an equal and he is rushing us through everything. For the rest of us we were interested as much in the journey as we were the destination but if we wanted to keep the group together that meant following the impatient Buddhist. At this point we just cut him loose. We slowed to the pace that we were comfortable and let him fly through the palace grounds.
We had another Chinglesh sign that we loved. "Mind the relics, mind the railings" In other words stay on the proper side of the railings so as not to damage the relics.
After touring through most of the palace we met back up with Ron and found Congi Lei waiting for us in the cab. He was catching a few winks. From the Summer Palace we headed to the Old Summer Palace, Yong Ming Yuan. This must have been a beautiful palace before the Opium Wars. Now most of it lay in ruins. The models that they have of what it used to look like showed a fantastic European style palace. Unfortunately the British looted it and burned it to the ground. www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYj9btRa8SQ
One of the Chinglesh signs that we had a bit of a problem translating was one in the ruins of the Old Summer Palace. It said "No Depicting on the ruins" We finally decided that it meant no Graffiti. To depict something would be to draw a picture of it. We loved trying to translate the translations.
They were playing Chinese music. They had several CD's We listened to a few of them. I asked about the music that had been playing when we came in. I think that it must have been someones personal CD but they got very excited when I asked about it. They said the one in the player was the only one. They ended up putting it into a case that had no cover and selling it to us. I wish I knew the whole story behind it because the girl was so excited to sell it.
We talked Congi in taking us to a local restaurant. The process of trying to communicate that we wanted to take him out to dinner was difficult and we were using our phrase book and pantomime. He figured it out and said that yesterday was too expensive. He knew something cheap... and local.
We were deep in the bowels of Beijing when Congi parked next to a little restaurant. It was a hot pot restaurant. Congi did all of the ordering at our request. Everything that came to the table went into the pot, except the beer and the sauces. They boiled until all of the flavors melted together. Delicious. It was obviously a very local place. We didn't see any other tourists inside. The girls serving us giggled almost the entire time that we were there. Congi was wonderful ordering tea, beer and more plates of food. The amount of food was crazy and I started to wonder if we would be able to afford this. It was the largest meal that we had while in China. www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOflowVChz8 PHOTO_ID_L=3-hot-pot-restaurant.jpg]
I needed to use the restroom and Congi pointed me outside. What I found was a room with a concrete floor with holes in it. I found a hole and did my business. Congi was waiting outside to make sure that I made it back to the restaurant okay. We always take a roll of toilet paper with us on trips just because of different traditions and for any colds we might take while traveling. Let me tell you it has come in handy on this trip.
I was flabbergasted when Congi told us the total of the bill. It ended up being only $3.00 a piece. We had a couple of beers each and a huge meal I can't believe what a great deal the restaurant was. We tried to leave a large tip but Congi got upset and said "No too much" It is so hard not to mix cultural morays. We want to be generous but not boisterous.
It was so hard to tell Congi goodbye. The bellmen at the hotel were kind enough to translate between us. We told Congi how much he had meant to us over the last couple of days. How he had shown us such a good time.
Right now we are packing up our stuff and getting ready to head out tomorrow to Shanghai. The trip is just passing too quickly.