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Paul & Luiza´s World Tour

China - Beijing – Amigo, Mila, Mila, muy balato!!!!

CHINA | Tuesday, 10 May 2011 | Views [1378]

Another (awesome) lunch in Beijing

Another (awesome) lunch in Beijing

Destination – China - Beijing – Amigo, Mila, Mila, muy balato!!!!

We arrive in Beijing on a Saturday morning and take a taxi to the “Fish Inn”. Our “hotel” has 8 rooms, tiny but funky and clean and staffed by two girls who, besides looking and behaving like they are 10 years-old, are actually quite helpful and make things happen. On the Sunday, we get a tour to the Ming Tombs and the Great Wall. The tombs are ok and the wall is not really that great. The tour ends up being a big shopping tour, taking us to a pearl, silk, jade, tea and Chinese medicine factory/shop. There was also a foot massage at the end but we managed to narrowly escape that one. Anyway, we survived without buying anything all day and go back to the hotel really tired but also happy, as we just found out how cheap Chilean wine is in Beijing.

So what if the sightseeing is not that great? We are slowly falling for this place. How can they keep a place with 20 million people so nice and CLEAN? The traffic is also pretty organized. The tree lined avenues are long, wide and uncluttered. The subway is the best we’ve seen so far in the world, and with perfect signage, you never need to ask for information at all, it’s that easy to navigate, even I can do it. People are nice and polite, if you need information they always find a way to help. The younger people have a great energy about them, this place is pumping and we guess the new generation doesn’t really care about all the old history and crap. They are just happy to ride the Chinese wave of growth together with sporting the most amazing “new wave” haircuts outside of the 70’s. People seem to be happy and friendly, funky and yet extremely polite. And don’t even get us started on the food, awesome! Every day is a gastronomic adventure.

We also go to the Vietnamese Embassy to apply for our visas and to the main train station to get our tickets to move onward. We are by now subway connoisseurs. Anyway, we didn’t really want to come to China to begin with, so it’s a fantastic surprise to both of us, how much we are enjoying Beijing.

Taking time off our shopping excursions, mostly to the silk market shopping centre, braving the fierce shopping ladies, we also get to visit the Forbidden City and Tianamen Square. Again, sightseeing is not what makes you fall in love with Beijing. So, the next morning we go back to the Silk Market. The shop vendors think we are Spanish and we are followed by the sounds of “amigo, mila, mila or muy balato!! Yeah, lots of fun. We also need to change hotels as the Fish Inn is full, so we move to a very nice boutique hotel called Kelly’s Courtyard Hotel.  It’s so funky and exclusive, they don’t even have a sign outside.  Both hotels are very close to each other in the same Hutong (old alleyways). The Hutongs give us a good taste of the old Chinese charm and we enjoy getting lost in the laneways as we learn different ways to get to the same places. So what if every building is gray?

It’s our last day and we start it by going back to the Vietnamese embassy to pick up our passports and Vietnamese visas. Then back to the silk market and then to try some famous Peking Duck, now called Beijing Duck. The duck is ok, here we are again with high expectations.  We end the day with a visit to the DongHuaMen night market, where you can eat almost anything, including live scorpions, seahorses and spiders.  We go conservative, with noodles, chicken balls, sweet corn on the cob, bean shoot pancake, and some funny expensive dumplings. It’s such a nice and lively place, can’t miss it if you are around Beijing. Next morning, off to Nanning, then on to Vietnam. 

We leave Beijing in the afternoon and take a 29 hour train to Nanning. The train is pretty good but not as good as the one from Tibet. As we get in and I try to push my backpack under the seat, a Chinese young woman, who is sharing the cabin with is says to us “e muito grande” (it’s too big), in loud and clear Portuguese. We are obviously very surprised. How come, with 20 million people in Beijing, we end up sharing a train cabin with a Portuguese speaking person? Are we being spied on? Very suspicious or just a plain huge coincidence? Go figure! Anyway, her Brazilian name is Amanda, we find out her father is Brazilian and her mother Chinese. Her sister lives in Sao Paulo and they import 51 cachaca (Brazilian sugar cane rum used to make capirinhas) into China. She’s very sweet and gives us “presents”, his and hers cute “mala” string wood beaded bracelets before leaving the train in her hometown. We also exchange emails and might get in touch.

We arrive in Nanning in the evening after 29 hours on the train, and it’s raining and dark, but China is so safe, we walk to the hotel.  The City Comfort Inn is very nice, the room is perfect and much bigger than the one in Beijing for half the price.  Nanning is a buzzing place, with all the restaurants and shopping centres you could wish for. We go out to eat, buy some Chinese wine and sleep like babies. Tomorrow, “hello Vietnam”.

 

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