Exploring Beijing

May 24th,

Wednesday night  after walking 15km today  through the mangled streets of Beijing and I do mean mangled. Most go nowhere then abruptly end, consequently one must retrace ones  steps. They have no rhyme or reason, truly Rome never set foot here.  

IMG 0013IMG_4673

Chinese Soldiers march along the streets, i try to photo, we are asked, politely ' not to take their photos ' and surprisingly in clear crisp English. If you follow too close, you get the odd sensation that you shouldn't.

Anyway after walking our feet off through some icky streets, then a beautiful park and then down narrow rabbit warren streets we hail a taxi to ride back to Shangri-la,with very sore feet. We are sore and hungry and decide to check out the hotels, Chinese restaurant. We proceed to order two soups, hot and sour and a basic wonton and two semi recognizable other courses., the menu had pictures.

1 and a half hours later I still don't have my soup, Tony had his ages ago and the food was barely palatable.

We left frustrated, still a little hungry and  miffed, but mostly exhausted, so head off to bed

IMG 4803

Next morning we are up too early for  Breakfast, which is once again absolutely fantastic and the service is too. Our friends Jenny and Loren greet us  Car 9 (Canucks), and we tell them about our day and sad dining  experience. One of the chefs overhears us and two managers shortly show up at the table. Asking what happened. We recount. I don't think I mentioned that the hotel also  has a 3 MICHELIN star French chef attached to it. The manager proceeds to invite all four of us to be their guests at 'STAY' that evening.  Could we possibly say NO... can't wait.

Off for our day of sightseeing, we share a cab, prices make no sense. To the Forbidden Palace it is 31 RMB or about 5 dollars. It takes maybe 40 minutes to drive there and it is right beside TIENAMEN (sp) Square, this is where we walked yesterday.  We grab a  cab to return later that evening and it's 100 RBM back? HUH! 

This browser cannot play the embedded video file.

workers in the Royal palace. 

As an aside, please excuse my spelling our access to internet sites remains limited. Yes I was right we cannot access FaceBook, UTUBE and Twitter and of course GOOGLE. It states on sign-in It is forbidden due to government regulatory reasons (maybe the US is right here) I have found many other sites we cant access. Very strange indeed.


Anyway, I digress,  The Imperial Palace goes on and on and on. built during the MING Dynasty and finished in 1420, it sits on the site of an older palace which was burned but even remnants of it  remain. It makes western castles from later epochs sites look feeble by scale. The preservation of this site is magnificent and trying to fathom that Christopher Columbus had not even been born yet is mind boggling. Chinese  history which I know so little about, other than the British perspective of the Boxer Rebellion is truly fascinating.  Although frightening to see how secluded their lives were it serves us well today, thank goodness to be able to see such a preserved piece of history. The  most interesting  fact is that it was never really invaded, only once in the 1600's  at the transition of Dynasties and the Emperor and Empress it seems just hung themselves so  little damage other than a small fire, took place  from the Ming Dynasty to the Quing Dynasty.  it is a testament to just how revered the Palace was.The inner palaces  are being kept up and restored  by labourers, no machinery was seen. 


Three hours later we walked to the shopping district. Wow a feast for sore eyes, but scary stuff. scorpions on sticks, grasshoppers, starlings, you name it is was being cooked. I shuddered and so did Jenny. We were a little disturbed. The scorpions were still alive and moving. Watching their tails I got fairly close to snap a photo. Many of the vendors didn't like it and shooed  us away. Sea horses were also on sticks. All a little creepy but it is a different culture and Loren reported he would have tried it other than we are a little nervous of our stomachs and starting the race with the trots. So we march on.  All this in juxtaposition to the Gucci and Jaeger le Coultre  stores on the next street. We also have a dinner to look forward too.


Local delicacies abound. How about some dried-squid-on-a-stick, great snack for the playoffs between periods

IMG 0085

Live sea-horses, starfish and more scorpions on a stick


Market filled with shoppers


how we look in Red army duds

Back at the hotel, we dress for dinner and off we head. We are greeted at the restaurant by many staff and and then we realize to what effort the hotel is going to ensure we have a delightful dinner. We are treated like royalty from start to finish. The four course plus meal  is exquisite.

Lobster, foi gras, steaks and finally 'la piece de resistance ' a dessert library, yes library where the French chef took us through the library to explain each dessert And explain how the library structure was built to guard the sterility and freshness of the food. I had a Mille feuille, with hazelnuts Tony a chocolate dessert. YUMMY!

The final courses which aren't counted were just plain decadent. Chocolates on sticks etc    Tony with the french chef.

Ok now I am ready to race, we don't need to eat for a week. Oh it was good.


As a final note, as I collapse into bed this is definitely a different world, but on second thought it is a marvelous environment which is such a great place to stage an event such as this. We are clearly in the minority and as we walk down the streets we are observed, not in a threatening way but more in a who are we way. There are so few Caucasians wandering the streets here. The streets are clean.


Fried larvae and Roaches on a stick …great way to snack.


fried scorpions on a stick….yumm !


more scorpions on a stick…..still ALIVE !!!! 

Jenny in car #7 joins Lee-Ann and gets up close an personal with the bugs

© Anthony Strelzow 2013