Haggling is an important part of retail therapy

It happened all too quickly at the Yashow Markets, haggling with Lilly the sales rep.

Lilly – States asking price.
T – Politely laughs in her face.
T – States prefered buy price (half of what Lilly’s asking).
Lilly – Laughs sarcastically, curses loudly in Mandarin (I think), then leans in and quietly brings her price down to something a little less ridiculous.
T- Shakes head, and starts walking away.
Lilly – Calls me back and asks for my ‘real price’
T – Requests something a tiny bit higher than initial buy price
Lilly – Pretends to cry poor.
T – States that the last buy price is final
Lilly –Accepts, but ‘only because we are friends’
T – Goes to the ATM, and gets out original buy price amount only, comes back to Lilly and says ‘this is all I have so can’t afford to pay for the goods today’
Lilly – More cussing in Mandarin, then reluctantly takes the money.

I’m the new owner of an Olympus U8000 Tough camera – water, shock, and weather proof 🙂

‘Just me, I’m alone. Table for 1’ – The Elusive CCTV Tower part 3

Today was a day for success – This was to be my third and final attempt, and I knew exactly where the CCTV tower was located, only an act of God was going to stop me.

That morning I woke up late at 10.30am, shivering with my nose, throat and ears clogged, and everything sounding quiet yet loud. But I had a mission to complete. So obsessed, I dragged myself out of bed and got ready to meet my self-fulfilling, Japanese buffet eating, destiny.

The confusion over coming solo started at the ticket office.

Ticket girl – ‘How many for the buffet, observation deck and aquarium?’
T – ‘1 please!’

The ticket girl gave me a look that lasted longer than necessary, then quietly took my money.

I decided to do the restaurant first. It didn’t even phase me that this was going to be my first single buffet, in fact, I had been looking forward to it. Looking forward to not having anyone tell me when I’ve had enough, and no one to look shocked at how much I can consume. So far, I’ve been eating ‘politely’ and even then people have been impressed. (Just quietly, sometimes I’d leave food on my plate just so my company don’t freak out). Today was going to be liberating.

I was standing with a couple in front of me, a Chinese girl with an American boy, waiting to be seated.

Host – ‘Table for 3?’
T – ‘No, I’m not with them’
The poor girlfriend who had come to spend a nice romantic lunch with her boyfriend looked at me sympathetically and asked ‘ unless you want to join us..?’
T – ‘Oh, no, it’s ok really Im fine.’
Boyfriend – ‘brave girl’
ok, that was a little annoying..

The hostess asks me again, just to be sure ‘ Just you?’
T – ‘Yup, just me, I’m alone. Table for 1’ holds up one finger.

She led me to the seating team, 3 waiters, where they continued to heatedly speak in mandarin while looking around, then looking at me, then laughing like it was just so ridiculous and inconvenient that I had come alone.

Now I was getting a little paranoid.

They finally settled on a four seater table. I guess all the two seaters were taken, that or they wanted to me feel even more alone.

I went to collect my first plate of food, salmon and king fish sashimi and lots of it. I come back to my big empty table, sit down and start eating while appreciating the revolving scenery. I couldn’t enjoy it, I was too aware of people noticing me, giggling (so I thought) staring at me. I felt like my table was so empty that it was the most fullest, most eye-catching, table in the whole establishment.

Full paranoia set in.

By the time I returned with my second pate of food – stewed beef, roast duck, Sichuan chicken, stir fried veggies – I couldn’t find my table and was convinced they had given it away. Distressed, with a plate full of food, I complained to one of the waiters accusing them of releasing my table to the party of four that had just been seated. I had come all by myself and they must have thought the table was free when I went to the buffet.

She tried to calm me down and find my table but I was adamant that this was my table, now complete with four solid placings.

Two more waiters came over to try to help sort the crisis out, all baffled over how this could have happened. I was horrified, by myself, with a plate of food and no table. And just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, another lady came over with a cheerful ‘Come with me’

I followed her expecting to be lead to a newly prepared table, and was surprised, and hugely embarrassed, when I saw that the table was already mine. ‘yup, that’s my plate, with my orange juice. These revolving restaurants.heh.so confusing..’ sheepish smile ‘xiaxia’

Ok. Maybe too paranoid.

I sat down and tried to calmly eat through some fried vegetarian dumplings, mushroom soup, a desert plate, and a fruit plate, without making eye contact with anyone. Due to being sick, I hadn’t even been hungry, but I was too paranoid to leave without giving it a good, un-selfconcious, go.

With lunch over and done with, I fled to the observation deck to look at the views of Beijing. ‘Wonderful, Beautiful, gorgeous!’ I was starting to feel better about the day.

Moving onto the Aquarium, which was located under the tower, it was once again a more stressful environment with signs not being obeyed. It was really irking me that these people weren’t thinking about the stress they were causing the fish, I felt a tightness in my tummy which wouldn’t go away. I had to get out of there.

Back out on the streets I started feeling woozy, like the ground was still revolving. I took deep breaths as I made my way back to the subway.

In the subway I had to concentrate to not vomit on the good people around me. I had a violent case of the hiccups, and the tightness in my gut had gotten so bad. For some reason I couldn’t stop thinking about the emperor penguin, suffering and starving their way through bitter sub-zero conditions for four months to keep their egg warm. That’s how bad I felt, I was comparing my condition to one of the worst breeding cycles ever.

I made it home in time to orally empty my lunch into the toilet. 3 times. I don’t think I’ll be doing another buffet. Not by myself anyway.

‘Now I know where you live’ -The Elusive CCTV Tower Part 2

After my initial failed attempt at finding the elusive CCTV tower, I did a little online research and discovered that there were indeed 2 CCTV towers. So the following day, I started out my second attempt in the scorching Beijing heat, this time armed with directions.

My directions ended at the subway station closest to the tower, with the next logical step being to look up in the sky, see the tower, and start walking in its direction. In reality, I looked up, and saw nothing but blue sky’s. New logical plan, walk until you can see the tallest building in Beijing. Within 20 minutes of circling the town on foot, I eventually see the bulbus head of the tower in the distance between two low-rise shopping centres. Elated, I march on.

Following a series of premature right turns and backtracking, I finally reach the entry at 1.45pm. Having started my hunt at 10am that morning, I was now hot, sweaty, dehydrated, starving and slightly delirious. Still, I was shamelessly excited, my curiosity had now become an obsession.

Unfortunately, after being informed that the revolving restaurant was only open from 11am to 2pm for lunch, I decided that I hadn’t come this far only to be rushed through my Japanese buffet, even though by this stage 15 minutes was more than enough time for me to consume everything in sight. This moment was to be savoured.

Looking up at the CCTV tower, I thought ‘ Tomorrow, it’s you and me my friend. Now I know where you live’, and I swear I heard the Wicked Witch of the West cackle in the background.

‘I am not asking you on a date’ – The Elusive CCTV Tower Part 1

I’ll start of by saying that my friends will understand my reasoning and obsession behind this.

When I heard from Harry, my local mate in the hutongs, that the CCTV tower was the tallest building in Beijing with an observation deck where you could view the whole city, and had a really good revolving Japanese buffet (did you say Japanese buffet?), I made it a personal mission to check it out.

So I had Eileen, my favourite girl who works at the Hutong Inn, (she’s really cute and always friendly) write down in Chinese where I needed to go, and confidently hailed a cab and agreed with whatever he said about directions.

Ten minutes later, the cabbie got excited as we neared a strangely angular shaped building, which was an interesting, beautiful, structure, and I’m no engineer, but all my revolving restaurant eating experience (and I’ve had my share) and instinct, was telling me that no, this was not where I needed to be.

The cabbie and I motioned back and forth, which in english would have gone like this:

Cabbie – ‘This IS the CCTV tower’

T – ‘No, it can’t be, a revolving restaurant can’t have edges’

And so on..

We even called over an innocent bystander to ask his opinion. He was a young man, kicking it on the curb with his 3 mates, who knew a tiny bit of english.

T – ‘Excuse me, where is the CCTV tower restaurant, where there is food’ (hand to mouth eating motion)

Guy – ‘erm’ (looks back at his friends, looks at me), ‘I am having lunch with my friends now, maybe later?’ takes out his phone.

T – No no no no no (crossing arms, shaking head) I am not asking you on a date! I want to eat. Not with you. Where is the CCTV tower??’

Guy – ‘Eat with me?’

T – To the cabbie ‘GO GO GO GO GO GO GO!’ frantic forward motioning.

Horay for the Wanfujing Bookstore!

Being the rookie that I am, I had left Sydney thinking that I could easily find a bookstore and pick up a read once I was in China. Bzzzzzzzzt! FAIL!! I don’t know why I thought the common Beijing bookstore would all have books in English -of course they are all in Chinese!

After being in China for 2 weeks, I was STARVING for a good read. You have to understand, I really put myself in what seems like the depths of downtown Beijing, in the Hutongs, where I’m surrounded by locals and the occasional traveller who can speak some english, and that some english is broken, badly.

In my room I have available 106 TV channels but there’s only one in English which is the looping news channel (I swear looping is what happens in Hell). So while I’m up to date with current affairs, I’ve been lacking in free-flowing conversation filled with wit, intellect and humour – all the things I’d get back home over a meal with friends

So I went on the hunt for the largest bookstore in Beijing, and found it in the Wanfujing Bookstore which host 7 floors of books, the 4th floor being Foreign literature – JACKPOT!!

I had been meaning to read Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts for some time, and had been saving it for my trip, however, in all the 3 bookstores I ended up finding that hosted English literature, Shantaram, the book that I really truly madly wanted, was all sold out.

So, to keep me sane, I chose 3 books.

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho – for insightful encouragement (Mark I know you have this book but you could never find it..)

Committed, By Elizabeth Gilbert – I’m curious to learn more about the ideology, and reality, of what marriage and committment is. (don’t get any ideas!)

And Sex and the City, by Candace Burnshell – for laughs and kicks.. and a healthy dose of cynicism.

Now all I need to do is find a second-hand bookstore to swap and restock – being a book-a-day girl, I’ve already gone through 1 1/2 of the 3! So if anyone can recommend a fantastic read, I’d really appreciate it, just email me, or comment.
Thx , T 🙂

The Forbidden City gossip

I’ve been putting off blogging about the forbidden city. Not because of any lack of content, quite the contrary, there’s just so much to say! The history is so interesting and extensive that I could have easily written a ten page essay on the subject! Then the other day as I was skyping with my best friend Dale, the topic of the Forbidden City came up, and I thought the copy of this Skype chat would be a much more interesting way to communicate some of the ‘gossip’ I find so enthralling about this amazing oriental monument = )

[8/13/2010 9:54:49 PM] Tiara Rugdee: You know, the Forbidden City is still the largest Palace in the world and took 15 years to build back in 1406-1420, the guy who built it was the Yongle emperor, who was self-appointed through violence and murder of his own nephew. For part of the build material, he forced the people of Szechuan to go deep into the south-western woods to cut down hundreds of thousands of these old trees (pheobe zhennan wood), and send the logs down mountains and rivers floating over 1000 miles to Beijing – they didn’t have trucks then! It took 4 years for these logs to get to Beijing by nature alone. Many of the people from Szechuan didn’t make it out of the woods alive, they had to deal with soldiers, disease, wild life, and weather without any shelter to chop these massive timbers. Amazing!!
[8/13/2010 9:56:11 PM] Dale Pullin: Hahah that’s full on!!
[8/13/2010 9:59:44 PM] Tiara Rugdee: It’s the eunuchs who worked in the palace that really interest me. They used to keep their balls and penis in a jar with them, or in a safe place at all times. These jars were actually called the chinese word for ‘Precious’. Very Lord of the rings.
[8/13/2010 10:00:35 PM] Dale Pullin: wtf!!!!!!!
[8/13/2010 10:00:40 PM] Dale Pullin: balls and penis????????????
[8/13/2010 10:00:42 PM] Tiara Rugdee: The belief back then was that you couldn’t move on in the after-life (to heaven) if you were not complete (your body) so the eunuchs thought it very important to be buried with their ‘precious’ in the hope of tricking the Gods into believe he was still a complete man.
[8/13/2010 10:00:46 PM] Tiara Rugdee: yup. (to balls and penis)
[8/13/2010 10:01:00 PM] Tiara Rugdee: some as young as 12, 13 years old
[8/13/2010 10:01:11 PM] Dale Pullin: why did they have their packages removed???
[8/13/2010 10:01:28 PM] Tiara Rugdee: The belief was that eunuchs were pure of evil thoughts, and the most loyal of servants. the theory was that since Eunuchs could not have sons, they would not be ambitious as they had no one to pass their assets on to.
[8/13/2010 10:01:58 PM] Tiara Rugdee: It was a class/status thing to have eunuchs, it showed your authority and level in the Society. Only Royalty and Government officials kept Eunuchs.
[8/13/2010 10:02:29 PM] Tiara Rugdee: The Emperors only employed eunuchs and servant girls because it ensured that any heir from the empress, or 2400 concubines, would definitely come from his imperial line
[8/13/2010 10:02:30 PM] Dale Pullin: so they were slaves?
[8/13/2010 10:03:11 PM] Tiara Rugdee: no, they were paid. many grown men chose to become eunuchs in their later life for a better life and to work in the palace, rather than starve or have their families starve. The common people were very poor.
[8/13/2010 10:03:42 PM] Dale Pullin: shie+!!
[8/13/2010 10:04:57 PM] Tiara Rugdee: In the operation for a grown man, they would be asked one more time before-hand if they wanted to become a eunuch, and if the man agreed, 2 men would grab his legs, another guy would hold him tightly around the waist, he would then be given some nerve stunning tea and be lying on this type of bed that was semi declined, and then the ‘knifer’ would cut off his balls and penis as close to the body as possible with a small sharp knife.
[8/13/2010 10:05:34 PM] Tiara Rugdee: then to stop the bleeding, the ‘knifer’ would put a metal plug in the wounds, make the man walk for 2 hours (he wasn’t allowed to lie down), with no liquids for a couple of days. It was an agonising process made even worse cos they couldn’t pee during this time
[8/13/2010 10:05:42 PM] Dale Pullin: how did they not bleed to death???
[8/13/2010 10:05:58 PM] Dale Pullin: and how did they make sure their urethra wasn’t lost inside the body??
[8/13/2010 10:06:39 PM] Tiara Rugdee: After the 2 days (I think it was 2 days), they would unplug him, and if the new eunuch could pee it was deemed he would be ok and go on to ‘Eunuch training’ at a princes home for a couple of years before he was allowed to work in the Forbidden city. After the training, the prince would also have to vouch for the eunuchs character and that he had become ‘pure of evil thoughts’ before being allowed to step foot in the palace
[8/13/2010 10:07:04 PM] Tiara Rugdee: oh, if the man couldn’t wee, cos the hole had closed up, then he would be left to die an agonizing death of not being able to release. from the front.
[8/13/2010 10:07:26 PM] Tiara Rugdee: apparently there weren’t many unsuccessful operations like this, otherwise thousands of grown men wouldn’t have volunteered.
[8/13/2010 10:08:05 PM] Dale Pullin: fuck thaaaaat
[8/13/2010 10:08:05 PM] Tiara Rugdee: The other really interesting part was the relationships between the eunuchs with the concubines. They were known as ‘vegetarian relationships.’
[8/13/2010 10:08:12 PM] Dale Pullin: ?
[8/13/2010 10:08:20 PM] Tiara Rugdee: Some of the thousands of concubines wouldn’t see the Emperor for years, and living in the Forbidden city their whole lives with no contact from the outside world, the eunichs were the only ‘semi’ male contact they had
[8/13/2010 10:08:37 PM] Dale Pullin: whats a concubine? one of the Emperor’s wives?
[8/13/2010 10:08:45 PM] Tiara Rugdee: no, mistresses, harem
[8/13/2010 10:08:48 PM] Dale Pullin: ah right
[8/13/2010 10:09:57 PM] Tiara Rugdee: The theory behind it was that due to the low survival rates for children, the emperors would have thousands of concubines (around 2400 for the Yongle Emporer) to conceive with, and if anything happened to the empresses male off-spring, the throne would go to the highest ranked concubines son
[8/13/2010 10:10:40 PM] Tiara Rugdee: interesting thing about being one of the Emperors concubines, if they happened to outlive the emperor, after his death the remaining concubines would be dressed up for him and hung, along with all their servant girls. And we’re talking 30-40 servant girls each.
[8/13/2010 10:11:36 PM] Dale Pullin: holy shit that’s hardcore
[8/13/2010 10:12:10 PM] Dale Pullin: So I wonder how many people wanted to go work for the emperor when he was getting old? heh
[8/13/2010 10:12:59 PM] Tiara Rugdee: The concubines didn’t have a choice
[8/13/2010 10:13:06 PM] Tiara Rugdee: If you were pretty you were fucked
[8/13/2010 10:13:09 PM] Tiara Rugdee: Literally
[8/13/2010 10:13:34 PM] Tiara Rugdee: And anyone who hid their daughters or cut their hair to make them ugly would be arrested and punished
[8/13/2010 10:14:14 PM] Dale Pullin: lolz
[8/13/2010 10:14:34 PM] Tiara Rugdee: Outside of the palace people were very poor. And with the Forbidden City being forbidden to the rest of China, besides the thousands of eunuchs, concubines, servant girls the Emperor and Empress, some government officials and monks, the Emperor became disconnected from his people almost as soon as he was throned
[8/13/2010 10:14:49 PM] Tiara Rugdee: and if he was throned at a young age, he would be at the mercy of his eunuchs
[8/13/2010 10:14:59 PM] Dale Pullin: that’s’ bizarre
[8/13/2010 10:15:05 PM] Dale Pullin: so who ran the show?
[8/13/2010 10:16:35 PM] Tiara Rugdee: the first Forbidden City Emperor was in control, though he was a tyrant. emperors after seemed to be screwed up in one way or another..
[8/13/2010 10:17:18 PM] Tiara Rugdee: because there were so many imperial offspring, the sons would be raised by eunuchs, and the ambitious eunuchs would groom the boys to achieve their own goals. Some of the childhoods were horrific, cos the eunuchs would manipulate the sons and break them down physically and mentally until they were weak in mind and easily controlled
[8/13/2010 10:17:34 PM] Dale Pullin: I see!
[8/13/2010 10:18:10 PM] Tiara Rugdee: they only stopped the tradition of eunuchs in the early 1900s
[8/13/2010 10:18:35 PM] Dale Pullin: twisted
[8/13/2010 10:18:57 PM] Tiara Rugdee: it’s such a tragic history
[8/13/2010 10:19:41 PM] Tiara Rugdee: a magnificent culture cultivated on blood and tears
[8/13/2010 10:21:03 PM] Dale Pullin: yes indeed – Plenty of history to learn everywhere you go! 🙂

Poo puzzle solved

During my time in China, whenever I’ve seen a local baby, he or she is never wearing a nappy, and instead wears baby shorts with a split down the backside so the babies butt is always bare (we’re talking babies and toddlers).

I’ve been curious as to how this system works – Where does the faeces go? On the streets? At such a young age, were babies able to warn their parents in advance when they needed to make a toilet run ? What if there wasn’t a toilet around??

The other day when I was exploring the town, I saw this man who had been walking his dog come to a halt, place a doggie bag under his patiently waiting ,squatting dog, and when the bag was suitably positioned, the dog then began to crap right into the doggie bag. Being a canine owner myself, I thought this was a breakthrough in the dumping/cleaning process.

Today, I was happily watching the seal show at the Zoo Aquarium, when the young chinese family sitting next to me caught my full attention by hovering their baby close to the ground, its legs bent and in squatting position, the mother then placed an open sandwich bag under the baby’s bottom, and soothingly coaxed him into doing his business by making blowing and whistling noises.

I felt a clash of emotions as this tiny human obediently strained to do his mothers bidding beside my left leg.
Satisfied ‘ So that’s how it works!’
Impressed ‘what a smart baby!’
Uncertainty ‘ is this normal..?’ looking around
Offended and slightly paranoid, ‘Do I give people the shits?’ (see blog titled Tale of two toilets)
Interest ‘what happens next?’
And ‘should I give the lady eating a hard boiled egg in front of me the heads up?’

As if on cue, the seal show came to a close, and I made my exit traveling faster than the speed of smell.

A day at the Beijing Zoo and Aquarium

I had been undecided on whether to visit the Beijing Zoo. I’d read the good reviews but was skeptical that the zoo would live up to my standards of what a good zoo should be, and anything less would only depress me. However, what I did want to visit was the Beijing Aquarium, and to get to the aquarium you had to go through the zoo.

Arriving at the Beijing Zoo train station, I didn’t immediately know the direction to take, so I followed my nose which eventually led me to the Zoo’s entry gate

The Zoo was much prettier than I expected, with lots of serene chinese gardens, a picturesque lake and wide spacious walking paths to accommodate all the people. Being a sizable zoo housing over 450 different species, I would have liked to see a lot less people space, and more animal space. If there's a need to have wild animals in captivity, at least keep their artificial habitats as close to what nature intended as possible – Singapore zoo sets a great example on how this is done http://www.zoo.com.sg

The Zoo's Aquarium had a variety of amazing aquatic life on showcase. However, the hundreds of children ignoring the ‘do not climb over the barrier’ sign’ and standing on the ledge of the display windows made viewing limited to little heads, bodies,and shoulders. Recommendation – visit the Aquarium when it’s not school holidays!

At the Beijing Zoo and Aquarium, the warning signs are not enforced. An example from the dry Zoo was this guy who wanted a closer picture of a monkey so he threw lollies into the enclosure to tempt the monkey nearer, it worked and the guy got his photo, but no doubt that monkey’s paying for it with an upset tummy. This happened right in front of the ‘Do not feed the animals’ sign. I voiced my disapproval, but no-one understood me, they just shook their head and probably thought I was asking for the food court directions.

Even though the warning signs were in both Chinese and English, all the Aquarium information was in Chinese only, which made it almost impossible to learn anything factual. Fortunately, I’m able to stare at aquatic life for hours, (it’s the closest I get to meditating), and observing these beautiful sea creatures was interesting enough.

Highlight – The Dolphin and Seal show is packed with action and humour, displaying how incredibly smart these animals are and is not to be missed!

Taste Restaurant in Nanluogu Alley

What drew me to Taste restaurant was it’s real estate – an old, gray bricked church, with one of those circular windows at its peak. Inside, the decor is cosy with striped material covered wooden furniture, and display cabinets hosting a range of liquor and crockery. At Taste, patrons are easily influenced into a relaxed state by the modern chinese intrumental music that plays throughout the 3 levels of this establishment

Like half the cafes and restaurants in Nanluogu Alley, the menu had a large variety of traditional chinese, modern chinese and western favourites on offer

Keeping it light, I selected the Salted Fish and Chicken with Eggplant hot-pot.

I wasn’t expecting to be impressed. I’d already eaten at a couple of restaurants in Nanluogu Alley and had been disappointed as my selections never quite hit the spot, you know, when you want to wiggle in your seat because you’re just so happy?

Taste was tasty! Visually pleasing, the course glistened enticingly in a mixture of spiced oils, and was simply garnished with chives, shredded garlic and seared ginger. The clay pot enabled the decently sized portions of tender eggplant to stay hot and juicy throughout the entire seating, while the chicken and salted fish, cast only to highlight the eggplant as the primary ingredient, had been minced and blended finely with the herbs.

Though initially disappointed that the chicken and salted fish didn’t come in bite size, I realised that the dynamic of flavour and texture would not have been so perfectly balanced for each mouthful if the meal had been prepared in any other way.

Rating – Excellent!

The best Peking Duck in Beijing?

No Beijing experience is complete without Peking Duck, and being a mean Peking Duck eater, I wanted to start with the best that I could find and was willing to travel far for this culinary experience.

The Roast Duck Restaurant
The Roast Duck Restaurant is located in the district of Chaoyang, and is both majestic in appearance and service. Aesthetically complete with a happy dancing golden statue on entry, there are 5 waiters purely for meet and greet, all equipped with walkie talkies to efficiently seat the large busy dining floor.

The Peking Duck – Roast duck delicately sliced with perfect portions of meat, fat and crispy skin. It was GOOD. However, I feel it was the quality of produce that let this dish down slightly. The ingredients of roast duck, plum sauce, cucumber, and spring onion wrapped in a corn pancake was fresh, but the combination didn’t have the crunch, the contrast in texture, or balance of flavours at the standard that it should have. It didn’t taste as good as the Golden Century, my favourite Peking duck eatery in Chinatown, Sydney.

Complementary dishes
Crispy duck skin on a thin slice of duck fat dipped in sugar – Tasty and quite enjoyable initially, then kind of unsettling as the duck fat and oil kicks in and you have to either swallow, or inconspicuously spit into a napkin.

Milky duck broth with thinly sliced cucumber – I could see where they were going with this entrée, using the subtle duck flavour of this dish as a precursor to the roast duck. For me, it was more like eating the poorer cousin of Cream of Chicken soup, quietly sitting in its category of ‘a dish you ate purely out of circumstance’ – Because it was there.

Roast duck head and brains with duck tail – Firstly, I didn’t know that ducks had tails? But having my adventurer hat on, I ate the tail, which was just like normal duck meat, and then courageously went to try a tiny bit of the brains, but as I clumsily picked with my chopsticks, the half head flipped over and this duck eye was staring at me. No amount of balls could make me eat this duck now- I take my meat faceless.

Verdict? Good Peking Duck. Average complimentary dishes. Definitely worth the culinary experience, but don’t expect the best Peking Duck in Beijing.

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