A fake French weekend!

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What I did
chang yua fip

Flag of China  ,
Monday, October 15, 2012

Hello everyone,

After our lovely week off it was back to work with fresh enthusiasm & lots of hard work, eager to get going again & get some appointments, so a busy & productive week.

You've heard us talk about InterNations & all the events we go to, they have 8000 members in Beijing and at the usual parties every other week you get around 250-300 people. There are sub groups, such as bowling which Andy runs with another guy, and things like hiking, badminton squash, photography, wine tasting etc. You’ll probably remember me having set up a women only social networking group where we had our first event at a hotel, with 10 people which was lovely. The members have been growing, now at 93, so I posted a new event to meet for Coffee & Waffles at a place called Maan Coffee, Waffles & Toast which is lovely. The guest list grew & grew and reached 59 during the day of the event (Tuesday), I panicked thinking the space reserved wouldn’t be big enough, however – usually there is a no show rate of around 25-50% at the events, and true to that, around 30 people came. It was a really lovely evening, quite a few new people as well as some familiar faces & all enjoyed it, it was a busy evening for me meeting & greeting, making sure everyone was ok, introductions etc. but I got a buzz from it, and finally sat down for my scrummy chocolate waffles at 9pm! Andy has set up a boys only group too, and their first event is on Wednesday visiting a micro-brewery which is cool, and again the numbers are growing in his group.

Thursday was a return to the Capital Club for the wine tasting with Ray, we hadn’t been for a while so it was nice, a good selection of wines as usual & the quiz where once again…. we didn’t win!

Friday evening & over the weekend, one of the big Carrefour’s here had a wine festival. 20% of all wine and on Friday food & bands / dancers. It was all on the top floor and like a massive warehouse that you’d find in France, with about 30 wine tasting tables. You could taste it in little plastic thimbles, but we did what most did & buy a cheap wine glass & be cheeky with the servers to give you a good pour!! It worked with the Chinese very well, but not with the foreigners! Entertained by dodgy bands & dodgy dancers, we sat & drank wine & ate some bread & cheese, and ended up quite merry by the end of it, all for free! Bargain!

The other day we were talking to a friend who showed us some pictures of a trip outside of the city to some lavender fields, followed by a 'French’ style Chateau in the countryside, so we decided to look into going. He’s the consul of the InterNations wine tasting group so decided to advertise it as an event to see if we could get a small bus there on Saturday, all of a sudden within a few days, we ended up with 50 people & a waiting list! And amazingly, 45 of those actually turned up!

So a very early start, met at the bus at 7.30am and begun what we’ve agreed is our best & most fun day we’ve had so far in Beijing! The lavender fields are about 2 hrs away towards the Simitai part of the great wall which is supposed to be very impressive, we did catch a glimpse of some of it from the coach, and it was very high in parts, on really jagged mountains. The scenery was stunning on the drive & so nice to get out of the city on a perfect blue sky day, although a little chilly certainly in the morning. Breakfast was served on the bus, croissants, pain au chocolat & bucks fizz, very nice thank you! So the drinking began at 8am….

We arrived at the fields called Purple Paradise http://www.lovexiangcao.com/ and you may or may not know that lavender doesn’t flower this late, but hey this is China & nothing is real…… so we have fields of flowers belonging to the lavender family which were very pretty, lots of fields set alongside a river, and strange buildings such as a little greek style church,  a white dome, big white words spelling out ‘LOVE’, the river as if you were along the Seine, and beautiful tall poplar trees, and a sunflower field although they were dead sadly, so you couldn’t help but be a little confused about it all & had to remind yourself that you were, in fact, in BEIJING!!!! We had a good walk around with plenty of photo opportunities, and ended up sat in wooden huts over the river in the warm sunshine, we’d all brought picnic lunches, and shared bread, cheese, wine, and fortunately one guy with us made chocolate cheesecake. All very nice indeed, and a really fun group of people, many who we knew plus some new friends.

Back on the bus, having stopped off to buy some little lavender bags, and another hour to the Chateau. We were nearly there, the Chateau in sight and 3 cars ahead of us, the police closed the road in all directions. We then realised having read about it, that it was the last stage of the Tour of Beijing cycle race http://www.tourofbeijing.net/ & we may end up there for an hour…… luckily they let us get off the bus & watch, every time the police turned away we crept closer & closer, then this poor little old lady who had ignored the road closure cycled through so of course she got a round of applause from us, and then when told to get off by the Police started really shouting at them, it took 3 of them to wrestle her off her bike & get her to walk to the side!! She wasn’t having any of it bless her! Then the race came through with its huge entourage of support vehicles, very impressive to see, not quite the Tour de France, but hey it was a French weekend! Managed a few piccies of the cyclists & cheered them on their way as they whizzed by, so quite a nice little bonus for our day out!

Back on the bus and in 5 minutes we were at the Chateau, http://www.changyuafip.com/ which apparently they re-created & took brick by brick from France,  and because it’s in China, where not a lot is real, the wine wasn’t even made there – it was for show!! But hey, we had a guided tour, and again plenty of photo opportunities and some wine tasting, guess what…… it wasn’t very nice….!! After that we wandered to a ‘French village’ behind the Chateau, purpose built & again very confusing to walk around, café’s, restaurants, token couple of brides having their photos taken and setting up for a wedding, so we found a bar to have a glass of wine (from a different region of course!) and headed back to the bus. Already a little late, we hit accident traffic coming back into the city. The organisers had brought several bottles of wine with the money left over which was poured, and anyone who’d brought wine contributed as the journey was going to take some time. High spirits when mixed with some Abba & Michael Jackson on the stereo equaled ‘bus dancing’ egged on by us all! A bit of a dance off to entertain us & a bit of Karaoke on the microphone to The Beatles, we were happy……. Finally got back into town about 7pm, and about 20 of us decided to go to a restaurant, it was one of those days where we’d had such an amazing time we didn’t want it to end. Having had the day at cost price too it only cost 25 pounds each, a real bargain compared to an organized tour by a travel company.

As if the day hadn’t been random enough, we turned up at a Muslim restaurant near us, hammered, and took over one of the long tables. Masses of food, loads of beer, and entertained on stage by a band, and a belly dancer. Yep, they were joined on stage by the InterNations group dancing alongside! Think we entertained the whole restaurant who seemed to be happy, clapping & cheering us on! Most of us then went onto a very nice cocktail bar but a certain redhead was finished after 2 Long Island Iced teas, and went floppy & lost her legs & the ability to hold her head up……..! Those of you who have had the pleasure of seeing me in such a state will imagine the look & the moves, and know that it was time that Andy took me home! We think it was around 2am, so an epic day!

Seriously though, it was such a laugh with so many cool people from around the world, all there to meet people, have fun & enjoy themselves, haven’t laughed so much in ages, face ache by the end of the day! Hungover the next morning, surprise surprise….. and for a change, it was the man of the house who held the moral high ground by going to play squash for 2 hours in the morning, whilst I stayed in bed recovering! Oh and have I heard the last of it?! NO!!!

That’s all for now!
(PS. there are loads more photo's which I'll put on Facebook)
Slideshow Report as Spam

Comments

Mary Speirs on

Wow......what's the expression......."Living it up".....and I thought you were both out there working......ha ha... xx

Sarah hobday on

Amazing pics....Delhi on the other hand was very very different!! Had technology failure so a shame we did not connect on the same time zone! Must swap stories soon. X

Nita on

haha, what a great day!!x

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