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  • Day29

    The Chinese Way and no Tippy Tippy

    September 23, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Today it’s our last day, it’s Sunday and we can’t believe it. We have a free day to do whatever we want! We decide to have a leisurely breakfast and then take about a 20 minute walk to the Silk Market via the Temple of Sun Park. We also witnessed something interesting from our hotel bedroom before we headed out but more of that tomorrow.

    Once again it was a beautiful day and the Park was busy. There were people jogging, fishing, families picnicking, ladies T’ai Chi’ing, girls giving themselves elaborate fashion-shoot selfies, a male saxophonist in the bushes (!?) and a group of people singing with a harmonica accompaniment. An eclectic mix for sure.

    Which reminds us that the Chinese are great users of public spaces to meet and enjoy themselves, particularly in respect of song and dance. On Friday evening we saw many groups of both mixed and female groups (mostly 50+ age) dancing in squares and on pavements in Central Beijing to portable speakers that they had brought along. Most of the dancing is choreographed and appears to be great fun for those involved. In the UK any activity of this kind would only be undertaken in a hired room or hall but part of the culture in China is to pick somewhere outdoors and just do it. There is now an official name for this (particularly in respect of older ladies) and it is called ‘Dama’.

    After the Park we arrived at Silk Street which up to 15 years ago was a huge outdoor market, but is now housed in a 5 storey building. Despite it’s name Silk is only sold in a small proportion of the site and you can buy pretty well anything you want there. We bought a couple of things (using the barter system) and then wandered back to the hotel to finish our packing and prepare for our last night out. We had a good four hours out and had a fine opportunity to witness Chinese people enjoying their Sunday. We noticed a few amusing things as you will note in the photos below!

    This evening we were really looking forward to the last dinner of our trip. We had booked at 7.30pm so firstly popped round the corner to the ‘Kylin Bar’ where we had been the previous evening. On our arrival the waiter recognised us from yesterday and after taking our order and delivering our drinks, he then brought us a bowl of peanuts and proudly pointed at them and showed us a translation on his phone which said ‘These items are free in the shop’. We think we know what he meant. He then keyed in something else to translate on his phone and showed us...‘Do not tip the waiter. Thank you.’, which we assume is a knock-on from last night’s bill negotiation and tipping escapade. We suspect maybe his boss wasn’t too happy about it. We obeyed this instruction (we must be turning Chinese) and resisted the temptation to tip when we left. The Kylin has been a welcome oasis for us in a City with virtually nowhere to just relax and have a drink.

    We got a taxi to our dining venue, the highly recommended ‘Little Yunnan’ restaurant, that had only been 10 minutes walk from our originally booked hotel. We were unable to be dropped right by the restaurant as the area within half a mile or so was in total lockdown for vehicles due to the two day rehearsals for the 70th Anniversary Celebrations. This was serious stuff with barricades and a multitude of security forces ensuring compliance.

    Anyway we had a wonderful meal. Ordering was tricky as we had no idea on portion sizes. We ordered three dishes and almost ordered a fourth but decided on caution. Thank heavens we did as our order would certainly have given a decent meal to four people. We gave it our best shot and didn’t leave much at all. The food is from the Yunnan Province which adjoins Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and Tibet so is spicier than most other regional cuisines which suited us fine. It was a great meal to end the trip on. Although the restaurant was busy when we arrived...guess what? Yes we were the last to finish!

    Now things got very interesting as we asked for a taxi. There were no English speakers amongst the staff. They relied on the normal method of communication which is translating via their phone App.

    It became clear quickly that things were not looking good. Messages put in front of us such as ‘There will probably be no taxis tonight’, ‘May be a very long wait’ and ‘no one can drive near here’ were certainly not promising.

    It looked as if they couldn’t help us and to be fair they were ready to go home. We were translating back about our predicament, particularly the point that our hotel was an hours walk away! There was then a flurry of translations back from our waitress along the lines of ‘Shall we try for a taxi?’, ‘We need to find pick-up point’ and ‘If I pay for taxi you will give me money?’ In the middle of these translations was a strange one ‘I think you are sexy’ which had the waitresses bursting out in laughter as this was something either lost in translation of previously used for her boyfriend.

    Finally she booked us a taxi on her phone App and we paid her what she’d incurred plus a bit extra and then her and another waitress spoke to the driver. We then left the restaurant accompanied by the 2 waitresses and walked for around 15 minutes with them past the barricades and deserted streets until they located the agreed pick up point for the driver who was waiting. We really can’t thank them enough and will make sure their boss and Trip Advisor are aware as walking back would have proved challenging physically and directionally.

    So we were back to the hotel for about 10.30pm and finished packing for our journey home tomorrow, Monday. Yang is picking us up at 7.30am.
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    Clif Arrow

    Loved following your brilliant trip! Safe journey home.