Last day in Beijing.
Today is going to be my last day in Beijing. I’m sure there are more monuments to visit but I’ve decided to spend my remaining time here focused on food that here, as we know, is really a serious matter. Before of it, now that finally my plan for next days has been defined, I need to book some train ticket. Of course, there are several travel agencies where you can do it but I prefer to do it at the central railway station. This way, tomorrow when I will actually take the train I will have a certain familiarity with the place. My next destinations will be the towns of Tianjin and Datong. The station is crowded as you would expect but in the end still quite well organized. In the main hall there are huge screens showing next departing trains. As reported by one display, one of the about 20 ticket counters has an english speaking employee so I go there even if in the queue there are also many locals. I have previously checked on Internet the timetable so I have a paper with train numbers and departure times but the employee is so efficient that I don’t need to use it. To buy a ticket you need an ID and the relevant number is printed on the ticket. If you buy ticket for a train leaving from a station located in a different town you need to pay an additional fee of 5 Yuan. I pay 128 Yuan in total in cash since they accept only local cards. It is less than 20 Euros. Trains in china seem to have very reasonable price. Now, with my tickets in the wallet I can reach the first goal of today…
Wangfujing snack market.
I decide to reach Wangfujing area on foot. So far, walking in Beijing streets gave me always great opportunities to take pictures but this is not the case. The 2.5 kilometres go away without any remarkable glimpse but I just need to wait a bit for nice photos. The famous Wangfujing snack market is announced by a colourful gate and by the first stall selling Scorpions skewers. The insects are still alive, Chinese people love fresh meat… However I don’t see many customers. The street hosting the snack market, in spite of its length of only 300 meters, offers really a wide variety of food, from the weirdest to the more ordinary one. I’m a bit hungry but I ignore the most “exotic” snacks and I opt for a very tasty octopus skewer. The curious thing is that I see Chinese people looking at me in a way that I read as “look that foreigner trying our strange food!”. Really! Likely they don’t know that the octopus is quite common in Italy and in general in the Mediterranean countries and it is, by the way, one of my favourite dish. Some market stall displays strange drinks smoking like in those old movies featuring crazy scientists. There is also a lot of fish. At the market, of course, you can also find some of the Chinese classics like noodles or dumplings even if some of them has cartoon-like shapes. I’m amazed by the stinky tofu but it is really too stinky for me. Snakes, grasshoppers and spiders are also available but in the end, when I need a further refill for my stomach I choose some tempting egg with shrimps. I see also cocoons or at least I guess they are and small birds that are in display with the head still “on” and I’ve to confess that this is somehow impressive. However I’m sure that this is one of those cases in which, not even the best writer would be able to describe what I have in front of my eyes, that’s why I’ve prepared for you the following video. Enjoy it!
Before I leave the area of this fantastic market that I will surely remember as one of my best experience in China, I stop by a big multi-storey bookshop. I’m struck by the many children sitting on the floor, browsing books. Certainly in China smartphones are widespread but, thank god, books still have an important role in spreading culture. For a moment I reconsider the Facebook ban. I decide to buy a small manual teaching how to to write ideograms. I hope it will improve my ability of understanding what is written around even if, at least here in Beijing, Pinyin (the transliteration system of Chinese in Latin characters) is very common and helpful. Reading my book on the metro I go back to my hotel. This evening, for the first and only time in Beijing I will eat far from my hotel but with a good reason… This post continues to next page