Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More Beijing

In addition to the Forbidden City, we also visited the Summer Palace which was more enjoyable due to the serenity and natural beauty. Another highlight of the trip was having a Peking Duck dinner at Li Qun which is THE most famous Peking Duck restaurant. It is where Anthony Bourdain went when he visited Beijing. We made a reservation for 7:30, and when we arrived, there was a huge line of people. The hostess put our name at the bottom of a long list to which we argued that we had a reservation. She yelled back, all in Mandarin, that everyone had a reservation! We waited for almost 2 hours until we sat down. This is a rather typical scenario in China. It was worth the wait. I’m not a huge fan of duck, but Li Qun was excellent. (Note the cabinet full of ducks behind Erik) Before the Li Qun dinner, we had a bit of time to kill and got coerced into taking a rickshaw ride. It was the best turn of events for the whole trip. Li Qun is located in a Hutong, the old traditional Chinese houses of Beijing. Hutongs consist of small alleys formed by walled courtyards encircling several small homes. We had already seen some Hutongs the day before, but this rickshaw driver took us to some very private areas. At the end of the tour, he walked us into a Hutong where he knew the family. We sat around their dinner table and shared some food and beer with them. It was completely cool. This was an incredibly unique experience and one that would not have been possible if we didn’t know some Chinese. At the restaurant Source, we had a fabulous Sichuan dinner also in a beautifully restored Hutong. Of course, we visited the snack food lane where they have some bazaar treats. No, we didn’t try anything weird. Luckily, we were able to see the Olympic Bird’s Nest stadium and the Pool Cube from the highway on our way to the Summer Palace—way cool. We were very surprised by the funky little boutiques and coffee shops around the Bell and Drum Towers in downtown Beijing and bought a few unique items. As expected, the air pollution was horrible, except for the last day when the sky was actually blue. We could have used at least one more day, so it gives us a good excuse to return.


kelly said...

sounds like a great trip!

The Fab Miss B said...

Another lovely adventure! Wonderful shots!