Our hotel was in the old hutong area where a lot of old (poor) China still exists. A local market hidden between construction sites appeared around one corner. Putrid looking dead animals and vegetation sat on the ground in the heat and dust between patches of fluid of an undesirable appearance. We stepped carefully through this in flip flops and didn't buy anything. Another flip flop danger zone were the public toilets. One trough for urine, and another for shit. No partitions for either. So I peed whilst a suited man squatted and shat beside me. He was chatting to another bloke whilst the rest of my mind focused on keeping my feet out of the thick yellow green white grunge that flowed slowly over the floor. I read that hepatitis is rife.
Our hotel was nevertheless clean and had a western style en-suite with sit-down toilet. The streets ranged from very poor to modern and rich.
There are stacks of local restaurants locals use which are good and cheap (27 yuan for meal and beers). Getting used to chop sticks happens quickly. What we ate tasted good but it could have been any animal. In a more expensive restaurant which cooked dog I had a bowl of noodles with chunks of coagulated blood. I thought it might have been liver but it was too light, quite tasteless and had a displeasing texture. Sea horses and scorpions could be bought on the streets cooked on sticks.
Shopping for day to day stuff became tedious because I even had to haggle for 2 bananas. I couldn't just go in and buy something and then walk out (unless I was going to pay over twice the price).
|That is until we found one chain
of shops called Quik that priced everything and had a check out which made
things quick and easy. Here I could tell I was paying local prices because
the locals used it. Beer cost 14 pence a can.. In the markets we haggled of
course. We met up with David, Marie Luise and Juliet at the Panjiayuan
Market and then had a walk and some food at Ritan Park.
Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City:
At first Maya drew just a handful of people at a time. Then, in the Forbidden City, crowds gathered and the guard (in the 5th photo here) gestured to us to move on after he failed to disperse them.