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Tasty Beijing

sunny -3 °C

Trains weren't agreeing with us lately. We were up all night due to another screaming baby, louder than our headphones, that the mother wasn't keen on soothing. The same mother and her mother chatted loudly, far too early in the morning, as if their offspring hadn't kept us up all night. Earplugs would have been an asset, but at least this was our last train in China.

We arrived in Beijing and the station conveniently connected right to the subway so we could follow my friend's directions all the way to her school. We had taught at the same school in Thailand and now she was teaching high school math courses in Beijing. Beijing had a lot of different subway lines to figure out, but compared with other cities we'd visited, they were older, showing more decay, and trains ran less consistent speeds.


After climbing out of the sheltered underground, we realized the city was actually quite cold. We found our hats and mitts to walk all the way to the school. We found it with its temple-like entrance and many floors. We couldn't go inside because of the security guards, which we knew in advance, so we found the most common place to loiter, McDonalds. Unfortunately their wifi wasn't working, but they didn't care if we stuck around after we bought a pricey breakfast.

People watching there was interesting as people either used the location as a nap center or a place to beat the cold. One woman came in without buying anything, grabbed up some of the used containers and cups that the staff hadn't had a chance to clean yet and set up as if she had eaten there so when the staff did come up to the second floor, they wouldn't kick her out. I understood until the point she pulled out bags of her own food and began to eat. She had the money to eat, but just didn't want to do it elsewhere. Funny world.

We met up with my friend on her lunch break and she brought us to her apartment not far from there. We passed plenty of hotels and restaurants along the way. Ryan found some of the street names like Wangfujing entertaining. On the side streets, upright metal triangles kept anyone but the owner from parking in the designated spots as they needed a key to unlock the metal. Failing to do so would damage the undercarriage of the car. If those triangles broke, then there'd be old broken bicycles locked to a section of the pavement to serve that purpose.

My friend explained that many of Beijing's apartments were quite old, but the interiors would be redone, so while the outside looked run-down, inside it was actually quite nice. Up the stairwell, many advertisers had placed their phone numbers on the walls in standard black paint. We dropped off our stuff and headed out for food.

She knew of a good, cheap local dumplings place with veggie options for me. In the doorway, they had a large vinyl-like door cover to prevent heat from escaping, but it really just made getting the door open and shut a big ordeal. It probably let more cold air in during the process. My friend had a neat app on her phone that allowed her to scan a Chinese menu and the app would translate it into English. We were quite jealous, although it needed a wifi or data connection to work.

We ordered leek and egg dumplings, meat dumplings and an eggplant dish similar to kung-pow. If we'd learned anything about China so far, it was that they really knew how do eggplant just right. This sweet and rich dish was no exception with pieces of diced pepper and onion mixed in. The food was very affordable too.

My friend had to return to work after that so we just lounged around the apartment, not straying too far from her water radiator conveniently located next to our mattress. For supper, we went to another local favourite of hers: the noodle shop. They had homemade noodle soup and could even make one for me with just egg and tomato. We also had kebabs: lamb for them and eggplant for me. Another tasty Beijing meal.

Posted by Sarah.M 20:27 Archived in China Tagged food apartment beijing mcdonalds noodle dumpling

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