Marble boat on Kunming Lake

Marble boat on Kunming Lake

 

Beijing – Day 4

I woke up with a thick head at 8.30am. My body had clearly decided all this lack of sleep was too much. A headache threatened and I felt out of sorts and completely devoid of energy, the jet lag had hit me hard. But, as it was our last day in Beijing, I powered on with the day. I was brave enough to try some of the non Western food at breakfast, choosing some noodles which tasted like chow mein. We went to the Summer Palace on what was yet another clear sunny day. It took around 40 mins to get there and felt much longer as I went through waves of feeling ok and feeling really ropey, but still only cost 5 rmb each.

The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace is centred around the very large Kunming Lake. We walked around and took in the scenery then caught a boat across to the South Island, where the Empress was said to pray for rain during droughts. It was all on a hugely vast scale. The guide books told us

The palace got destroyed and rebuilt again with money earmarked for the navy. The marble boat was the only nod towards the navy.
We could have explored the buildings but I really wasn’t feeling up to it. When we were done looking around we got a taxi to the subway and headed down to the bell and drum tower.

View of Kunming Lake and the South Island

View of Kunming Lake and the South Island

Drum Tower, Beijing

Drum Tower, Beijing

 

The Hutong

You could buy a ticket to climb up the bell and drum tower but I was really not feeling up to it. We wondered up and down an adjoining road trying to find somewhere to eat. The street was very funky and modern, with shops selling all sorts of cool designer type clothes, gifts and gadgets. After coming back down the road with no luck finding somewhere for lunch we found a tiny veggie hotdog place which was basically a corridor with a window onto the street, just big enough to serve people through. We got one of these, which was very tasty, then took a wonder through the back street hutong area.

Just as we thought we were running out of shops we came across an action packed street with lots of cool shops and cafes.
I bought a peach from a green grocer as I had seen lots of people walking around with nice big peaches. Just as we thought we were running out of shops we came across an action packed street with lots of cool shops and cafes. It was really funky and so much fun to wonder down. All the products had prices and nobody hassled you to buy anything. You were free to wonder and look as much as you liked, quite unexpected for Asia! I bought some sunglasses for 50rmb, something to tick off my list of things to buy while in China.

Feeling pleased with myself we carried on until we hit the main road again. We headed back to the subway and I bought some hair clips with flowers and mushrooms on them, something I had seen a lot of people wearing in Beijing and found quite extraordinary. Seeing people walk around with a mushrooms sticking up from their head is not something you find back home, so I bought some back for friends at home.; 4 for 10rmb.

Lost in Communication

Back at the hotel we showered and got ready to go out for dinner. We thought we would try a Mediterranean restaurant Will had found on the internet called Mosto. We got a cab and headed off in what Will was certain was completely the wrong direction. Worried we were heading further and further down the wrong end of town we got out the cab and asked more taxis to take us there (by showing them the address in Chinese).

We went a couple of blocks then the rickshaw driver dropped us off … we felt completely lost.
After trying about 5 different cabs with varying responses such as ‘can’t see’ and just ‘no’ a rickshaw driver approached us and said he would take us so far but then we’d have to walk. Remember this was all conveyed using body language; no English was spoken at any point. He ‘told’ us it was just down the road so we carried on walking until we got to the end of the block and decided we were still lost so we tried to get a cab again. One cab driver said ‘it’s just there!’ again conveyed using hand signals and body language, so we walked over the junction where there were lots of bars along the road. Will recognised the road name Sunlitan from the address – we were in the right place! Luckily the bars had numbers so we knew it was somewhere on the other side of the road, which confusingly was a shopping centre and the name of the restaurant did not appear on any of the shopping centre maps. Just as we were about to head back up the road in case we’d missed it, Will recognised the building name from the address so we knew we’d found the right building – getting closer!

Expat Style

In a hacienda style building up 3 flights of stairs, we eventually found Mosto. And it was worth it. The restaurant was modern and stylish with a real expat vibe. I had pasta, a glass of wine and a nutella crème brulee, which were all delicious. Again the bill came to around 500rmb (£50). Afterwards we went up in the elevator to a funky rooftop bar with big round lights and bench style seating all around, with large cushioned areas which were presumably to lie in. They had a live jazz band playing which all expats and locals were dancing to. I ordered a Martin Miller’s gin and tonic, which came with cucumber and a cinnamon stick in it (surprisingly good with the cinnamon – definitely worth trying at home). A girl from London asked me where I got it, and we got chatting. Soon her friends came over and the evening became a lot more fun, chatting about travels and life in Beijing. We headed back around 11.30pm, and unfortunately had to wake up the receptionist at midnight to get our room key… I felt so guilty, but we’d had such a great night, it was hard to feel too bad for long.

Enjoying the view from the rooftop bar with a Martin Miller's gin and tonic and cinnamon stick

Enjoying the view from the rooftop bar with a Martin Miller’s gin and tonic and cinnamon stick