It’s my last day in Beijing… So bittersweet. As always I feel I’m leaving too soon! I want to walk the neighborhood again and such but need to work on packing.
With my bags ready, I leave them behind at the hostel to go have a big lunch. There’s no other way to say goodbye then with Beijing’s signature dish.
I go with the hostel’s restaurant recommendation. It’s over by the lake and I take in the scenes around me. I’m walking and the Chinese tour groups with matching hats are out in full force. I wonder if they think the hats sweeten the deal. There’s a line for buying giant sunflower seeds and other snacks. An actual line, no cutting. Serious business. I realize why Chinese people will squat or sit on newspaper instead of sitting on the curb or whatever like we do. They all spit. Tiny tots with crotchless pants will squat anywhere to pee along with the dogs. Gross. I follow along to fit in and not to sit on someone’s piss.
I’ve arrived. The duck in front makes it clear why I’m here. There are a few famous chains of restaurants in Beijing that serve the dish and this is one of them– Quanjude.
Several groups of people are already here eating and a ton more show up. I suppose the tables are reserved because I’m told to wait.
I order and it’s a quarter to one. I have a feeling I’ll be running to the train. I’m glad I didn’t go with another restaurant farther away. Can’t wait to eat! The waitress made no comment on my food quantity. She knows some English and I ask if it’s enough. Yes, she says. Now I’m the gluttonous American. At least this will last through the train ride!
This is the first time I see someone use a credit card. Oddly enough mastercard is the logo they showcase instead of visa. Oh my, do they pack leftovers?! I hope this is true. (Spoiler alert: it is not unless you’re ordering a duck to go)
First is several slices of duck skin. A thin crisp skin with a slightly thicker layer of fat that melts in your mouth. The sides are sugar, sauce, cucumber and onions. Maybe the sugar was for the skins? Oh well.
Purple potatoes and Chinese yams show up. I wanted to try something new. I don’t think they’re purple potatoes but some other sweet root vegetable (taro?). The Chinese yam tasted more like potatoes and has a berry preserve on top.
The moment I’ve been waiting for! Roasted duck! The waiter comes by to demonstrate how to eat the duck. You need to fold it into little packets. It is delicious. I should have tried it sooner! Off to the train!
I just made the train but didn’t feel rushed for once. Maybe the weight of the backpack prevented it. I can only move so fast with it on. I show a security guard my ticket and he directs me to go around to line 4. So the lines outside are for security, not tickets!
Line is a very loose word for how Chinese people queue. It was a mosh pit– pushing, shoving their luggage onto the X-ray machine and jostling through the metal detector. Good lord! How can it always be this way?!
I push or am tossed out of there. I walk to the wrong waiting room then back track to see an info booth. No big deal. Go upstairs and the train is already boarding. In the train I find my seat. It’s hot today and with my jacket and backpack, I’m sweating. The luggage rack is so high up. I lift my pack and the guy I’m sitting next to, helps me. We’re off.
Hey, why don’t ya look where you’re goin’.
You’d think it was your first time in Beijing!
Beijing, Beijing! It’s a helluva town!
Beijing, Beijing, a visitor’s place, Where no one lives on account of the pace, But seven millions are screaming for space.
The Summer Palace is up, but Tiananmen is down.
The people ride in a hole in the groun’.
Beijing, Beijing! It’s a helluva town!
I know I’m close to my stop and ask the woman next to me to verify. She shows me her ticket that she’s getting off there too. When the train arrives I show her the name of the building I’m looking for. I just want to know what direction to walk in. It’s dark out and reviewers mentioned it’s nearby but tricky.
She calls out to the other people and they try explaining. Another woman speaks some English. She says her mother knows where the building is and they will take me there. Datong is her home town and she warns that it’s not as safe as Beijing. We get to the building quickly but have trouble finding the proper elevator. When we do find it, she continues up the elevator with me and I assume she tells the owner of the difficulties. I apologize for taking up so much time and thank her for all her help.
I check in and ask about the Hanging Monastery. There’s two people going tomorrow and I agree so the taxi will take us there.
I go to bed and I don’t think I’ve ever not slept on a mattress. Mattress if you want to call it that is thin padding on the plywood of the bunk bed. At least I got the bottom bunk!