Day 3 – Continue
After we survived the terror ride of the Badaling sliding car, we walked past a corridor where our photos on the sliding car were taken. Luckily, the people there didn’t hassle us to buy the photos, save for some weak attempts of asking us to pose for photos wearing their yellow emperor robe or the colorful silk for the empress.
It’s weird that it’s rather hot up at the Great Wall, eventhough it was on higher grounds. As we reached the foot of the hill, it was freezing cold again! Here, you get to buy all kinds of souvenirs from the vendors. Most popular is probably getting your name engraved on a key chain with great wall motives behind it.
Poor bear freezing and hungry
As we strolled downhill, we were greeted by a couple of grizzly bears on a man made steel platform. Here, you get to feed the bears with a plate of cut apples at 3 yuan. I feel that it’s really inhumane to keep the bears here for entertainment sake. They even have little bears at display. I was totally turned off. As I looked below the man made pit, there were other bears too – most of them looked really hungry and waiting for patrons to give them the 3 yuan per plate apples. It was indeed a sad sight. As we walked away from the pit, we could hear the bears fighting for the measly amount of apples thrown by the care taker when nobody wanted to pay 3 yuan for small plate of apples. Their roars can be heard miles away!
After the visit to Great Wall at Badaling, it was already almost 2 pm. As usual, we were whisked away to some novelty shops selling jades. We don’t even look at the things offered. Even the locals were turned off by it. I guess it’s getting too stale to use such tactics on people anymore to force people to buy things!
We were ushered to the dining room to eat lunch together with others. I got really disgusted because there were no extra spoons on the dishes – so everybody will be using their own chopsticks to dig right in. I am fine if I eat with people I know but this is with total strangers! But then, it was a good thing that, the people at my table were so civilized that I was pleasantly surprised. On the other tables however, we could see people standing up eating, with one leg up a chair and they ate as if there’s no tomorrow – basically chopsticks fighting to grab as much dishes as possible! So I am glad that we ended with the most civilized people on our table!
After the measly lunch of cold vegetables and meat, we were on our way to visit the 13th Ming’s Tombs. A guide was assigned to us and as usual, I couldn’t really comprehend what the girl was saying but somehow, from the tone of her voice, I know there was an element of threat. Since there were many elderly people in our group, she told us to follow her instructions exactly as we were visiting a sacred place so it’s important to adhere to rules, otherwise we would return with bad luck on our backs. There were so many rules and regulations such as on which foot we must put forward when crossing the band on the floor, etc. We were then ushered to another side of the place and told to write our names for good luck purposes – be it love, career or health. I thought it’s for free and already think of what to write on the red plaque given by them. Mana tau – writing your name on the plaque cost you 90 yuan. And if you want to write name of your entire family, you have to pay 220 yuan. This is outrageous! Day light robbery! We decided to give the plaque back to the handlers and walked away. Many of us didn’t buy the stupid plaque! The tour guide got a little pissed because there were several people who didn’t even get down the bus to enter the place, so I guess her commission was shrunken because of this, so she wasn’t happy. We didn’t even have chance to snap any photo here because of too many taboos and what not.
Then, we were whisked away again to some tacky Ming’s Palace. I thought it would be some temple looking place again but we were brought to a really big shopping complex. I told my friends – not again! Another shopping trap! Here, we get to see the wax figures of previous dynasties. It was quite interesting actually. We didn’t follow the guide and venture on our own. There were also a spot for people to don on emperor’s robe and to have their photos taken together with many wax concubines. Hahaha! It’s really tacky if you ask me!
So, we finished going through the wax museum thingy and then, before going out, again, was made to pass a corridor of vendors selling lotsa things which we don’t need. We got out and bought some water from the vendors outside instead.
Thinking that, this would be the last tacky place – we were relief to be going back to the city. Then, the not-so-happy tour guide started to complain about people who don’t buy things (us and many others!) and also people who refused to get down the bus to enter the places. In between her harsh voice and stern tone, I knew she was not very happy with the group. Then, she pulled the last trick on us – she claimed that, according to China Laws, anyone who visited the Great Wall needed to be accounted for, so she would drop us at the “immigration” place to get ourselves “identified” and also their tour bus “inspected”.
Again – we were dropped at this jade place. As we were ushered into a room – again, the people there put up their utmost skills in acting and we had a great time watching them pretend as if we were so stupid to fall for their sales gimmick! As usual, a girl would be assigned to take care of us, then a guy came in and pretend to say that we are special group, so have to be given special treatment – then, a manager would come in and tell us, he’s not going to do our business today because they have met quota of the day and promise to give us a gift each. The manager went on to say that, today is a joyous day for him as his wife given birth to twin boys. He already had 4 daughters and now, finally two sons. A fellow tour mate corrected him and said, this is China. There is a ONE CHILD policy. How could you even afford to have 6 children is beyond us. Do you have a mistress? That was hilarious! Then, the manager counter claimed by saying, he’s not from China, he’s from Malaysia! So, the 5 of us feel very sia sui to be affiliated with the guy. It’s obvious he’s from China because he doesn’t even look like a Malaysian Chinese!
Here’s the secretly recorded video – you can hear me laughing super loud at the background when he said he was Malaysian after being questioned by the group.
We left without even waiting for our “gifts”. It’s obvious that everybody knows of the stupid trick. The pissed tour guide just got off the bus and didn’t even go up the bus because that was her last stop – after she scolded everybody on the bus. The bus driver asked if anyone would like to visit the Bird Nest stadium, he could drop us there for a visit, then we go back to the city ourselves. A few of us agreed to visit the Bird Nest.
We thought he would drop us at the front of the Bird Nest but then, we were dropped at the middle of nowhere. The driver told us to walk 5 minutes to the Bird Nest but it took us more than 20 minutes to reach the bloody place. So if anyone tells you in China, walk 5 minutes, it means 20 minutes at least!
We were hungry, disappointed with the outcome of the tour, and tired when we reached Bird Nest and Water Cube. I didn’t want to walk anymore, so we decided to hire a golf cart at 20 yuan each person to go around the Stadium. It was a lucky thing that we sat on the golf cart – otherwise, the place is simply too large to be ventured on foot! Then, we asked the golf cart driver for a good makan place, he suggested Gulou to try out their starchy fried intestines and liver. We asked how to get there, he merely suggested we take a cab.
After the short visit to the Stadium, we were hit by another blunder. Apparently, Line 8 subway to the city has been discontinued! The stupid tour guide and driver didn’t even know this – or maybe they just want to get back to us on purpose. We were pissed to the max!
As we walked out from the stadium, we were greeted by tout cabbies again. Anyway, tonight, it has been a long, long day so we agreed to pay the guy 80 yuan for a ride to Gulou for the 5 of us. He said, Gulou is too far and about 40 minutes away but we got there in less than 15 minutes. That fucking idiot! Anyway, he dropped us right in front of the shop and we got in straight away.
The shop is situated at the beginning of Gulou Dongdajie (Gulou East street). There were hordes of people inside! We managed to get a table at the back of the extended shop. I let the girls do the ordering because I couldn’t read Mandarin at all!
Tofu noodles with innards
Char Chieng Mien
Starchy fried liver and intestines
At first I was apprehensive about eating livers or intestines because I am not a fan of innards! However, maybe I was too hungry –since we had only one shao ping in the morning and the measly meal at the Jade place, I stuffed my face with whatever that’s laid in front of me. The paos are simply juicy! The Char Cheang Mein was super delicious! And even the tofu noodles tasted great with so many intestines inside!
By the time we finished dinner, it was almost 10 pm. We hailed a cab to get back to our hotel. When we got into a cab, the cabbie looked at me and said, “I thought you were Han Hong!” Ms Pok laughed like crazy. I asked who is Han Hong? Ms Pok said, oh, she’s a very talented and famous singer in China! So I jokingly ask the cabbie if he wants my autograph? Then he said, he gotta pee. He stopped by the roadside and excused himself. Not the response I was looking for. Epic fail!