‘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.

‘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.