27th October 2011, Thursday
Having learned our lesson from yesterday, we decided to go easy and to avoid the morning crowd, so we woke up a little later and have breakfast at restaurants nearby our hotel at Hepingli Middle Street. The place turned out to be quiet in the morning, with very rare shops offering sitting in dining. Most are mainly catering for breakfast-on-the-go. So, we walked a good 30 minutes before we could find ourselves a sit-in café. We went into a shop selling the starchy thingy again with paos. Our aim was just to fill our bellies to prepare ourselves for another day of walking, walking and walking.
Colors of Autumn
Today we decided to visit Summer Palace (Yu He Yuan), Empress Dowager Cixi’s summer home. The Empress surely knew how to enjoy life. She decided to collect the entire China’s best sceneries and accommodate into her summer palace. If you ask me, it’s too tacky lah. We need to pay 70 yuan to look at the entire place. We thought we might not even be able to finish walking around for the day, so we decided to go for half ticket, 30 yuan ticket.
We got down the subway at Beigongmen, exit D – turn left and left again, go straight for 5 minutes to reach the rear of the palace. It’s proven to be a good choice because there were less steps going up here than the front gate!
There’s nothing much here in Summer Palace. I find the place too tacky. We started at the Suzhou province. Here, we need to top up 10 yuan just to go around the river to visit the place. As I’ve visited Suzhou before, I don’t think it’s necessary. So we didn’t go. Then our way in, we need to climb to a few places which I didn’t go as well because I was just too lazy. My feet were killing me since I’ve been walking non stop for 5 days! So I told the girls to go ahead and I would wait for them at the park below.
While waiting for the girls at the park, I sat down at a bench near the lotus pond. Nice weather, couple with cold wind made it ideal to take a short nap. As I was about to slowly drift into a blissful sleep, suddenly I heard, Hurrgghh…. Ptuuuuui!!!!
Good God! Everybody seems to be spitting into the lotus pond behind me! I was so disgusted! Might as well have a spit pool rather than a lotus pond! Geez!
After that, I caught up with the girls after their climb to other gardens. They were somehow unhappy because since they didn’t buy the full ticket, they realized that their tickets were not good enough to enter the places. So kesian! Susah susah climb! They could pay at there and then itself but they refused! I guess my laziness ruled in favor of me, this round!
So we had a short lunch and then, coffee break at the park while the girls contemplated on the next destination since this Summer Palace bored the shit out of us.
We took the bus and ended going to Tsing Hua University in Beijing. It seems this is the crème de la crème university in China. But now, if you have money, you can enter! Haha. The girls wanted to visit this place, however, we were stopped at the entrance. It seems, it’s no longer opened to public visits anymore.
Or perhaps, there were too many people visiting this place, so they came up with another business idea. They have touts standing outside the university acting as tour guides. We need to pay them 100 yuan to get into the university. Who knows? They might just split their earnings with the guards, that is why they stopped public from going into the university. We were somehow turned off by the touts, so the girls took picture of the place and we left.
Since it’s already almost 5 pm, we thought of going to Wangfujing after our brief visit the day before. It proved to be a really good choice since it’s about dinner time and one of the girls wanted to try out the famous mutton steamboat in a restaurant called Dong Lai Shun in Wangfujing.
I like the walking street at Wangfujing and wished we spent more time here. Here, you get all the BBQ of all kinds of insects and sea produce. I think nobody ate the scorpions or grasshoppers. They were merely for show I guess. The little scorpions on the stick were still wriggling! So disgusting! Things here are not very cheap though. You could haggle 50% minimum to buy the things you want. The traders are friendly lot though. If you just look and don’t buy, they seemed fine with it. I guess they are used to dealing with international tourists.
Pot of rudeness
Since we were famished from the small lunch earlier on, we decided to have our dinner early at Dong Lai Shun. Once we were seated, we asked the waitress if there’s a set menu. Somehow the waitress just gestured us to look at the menu ourselves. After we had looked through the extensive menu and made some orders, towards the end, we realized there’s actually a set menu on the last page! That was what we have been looking for and the stupid waitress didn’t even tell us. So, we had to cancel everything and told her to get us the set for 3. The waitress didn’t look happy and was showing us her black face!
The garlic and peanut sauce are nice though
It’s a miracle that people would bother to come here to eat. The kebab is nice though, I find them nicer than the ones we had on the second night we were here. The steamboat is so so only. The dip sauce is good though – it’s peanut sauce. Other than that, there’s nothing really special about this place, except if you like to experience utterly rude service, please feel free to come here. We didn’t even bother to leave any tips either for that stuck up bitch.
By the time we finished dinner, there were many people waiting outside for their turn. We shook our heads in disbelief that there are actually people who would line up for bad service. I made a mental note – in future, not to frequent any restaurants or joints with beeline queues because they tend to be stuck up and no matter how delicious their food maybe, I don’t think I want to pay for bad service!
When my friends asked me for feedback on that restaurant, I only have one answer – “Hurrgghh…. Ptuuuuui!!!!”
We ended spending the remaining hour in Wangfujing bookstore. Here, you can get all kinds of books translated into Mandarin and half the price. I guess the only regret I have in this life is, not learning proper Mandarin. I wish my dad had sent me to a Chinese school since little. Sigh.