Summer Palace, markets, noodles, and the hutongs
Trip Start Jan 12, 2008
171Trip End Oct 01, 2008
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Markets hawking the fakest reproductions imaginable were the next stop and our bike gang reunited with the addition of Henry and Dan-Dan. I was on the lookout for new sneakers and figured this would be the perfect place to get a cheap pair of kicks.
Well, not only were the shoes falling apart at the seam already, but no one had my size. I escaped the markets only picking up a fake i-pod headset for a few bucks.
The crew then moved on to see what traditional noodles were all about. Henry took us to one of his favorite places where we saw the chef actually make the noodles before he cooked them for us.
From this oasis of culture and history we went not more than a few miles down to the posh neighborhood around all the embassies to stop in at a birthday party at a Mexican restaurant. Drinks here ran about $8 a pop, a far cry from the $5 per case of 22oz beers (that's like 45 normal U.S. beers, or les than $0.12 per beer!) that we had paid in the hutongs! I quickly bored of this entirely foreign crowd and we left to check out the infamous World of Suzie Wong bar/lounge which was quite posh as well. After all that, a late night food session was in order so we sat and ate as a huge fight went down on the sidewalk outside the very local restaurant.
I fall asleep thinking about how much I was enjoying Beijing and how it was so different from any other city I had ever been to. Such a shame that most people coming to this city for the Olympics won't get to see it as I have so far! Apparently they are making a few changes to the city in preparation for the world's first real glimpse into China in quite some time... all construction is stopping at the end of this month, and that has been a part of life as Beijing has built the equivalent of NYC in the past five years... they are deporting millions of migrant workers and telling them to make their way back for after the Olympics... no trucks are allowed in the city and people are only allowed to drive every other day... they have genetically engineered flowers to bloom in the month of August... they are literally washing down trees at night (weird to see a work crew scrub a tree down) to avoid sand and dust piling up... you get the idea! The beauty of a supremely powerful central government. That is also the reason why U.S. cities are so far behind in terms of infrastructure though, so it's a double-edged sword I guess.