These are the exact words – well, in Chinese of course, of the man pictured at below.
While out with a group for a weekend hike in the countryside surrounding Beijing, we stumbled upon this character. Apparently his donkey had escaped him. Perhaps it was the concept that ones transportation would up and leave you that made me chuckle. The pro’s of an electric donkey seemed all too apparent. Power him down and you’d never be caught unaware and with an escaped donkey again! It was unclear how this particular old man had lost his donkey.
For the rest of the hike, every time we saw a donkey, we wondered if it was his. Perhaps we should all take a moment and be thankful that, barring thievery, we usually find our car right were we left it the night before.
Donkeys are the predominant mobile working tool of the area. Usually there are only one or two for a village area – as far as I can see – but they are still very commonly used for lugging fire wood, clearing fields of branches and transporting heavy loads. In the hilly areas where roads are scarce, they are just the tool to get around the terraced fields.
To me, it sounds like something spiked – something I wouldn’t trust. When it was served to us at a small restaurant off the trail to one of the sections of the great wall, it looked like a brothy soup.
In China meals are almost exclusively served family style. Show up at a restaurant, and your group will be seated and presented with one picture filled menu – whereupon you decide together what you’ll all have for dinner. Then, throughout the evening various dishes will arrive at your table and served just like your mom would – as they’re ready and hot. You then spend the meal picking with your chopsticks at various dishes – sometimes using a little plate you’re given to dish up a proper portion for yourself. But usually not. It’s a family thing.
After a winter hike on the great wall this weekend, our guided tour treated the group at a local restaurant where, among other traditional dishes, we were served a bowl of piping hot…. Coke. Like I said. I thought it was soup. When our little bowls were passed around and I tasted it, it was indeed warmed Coca-Cola, seasoned with ginger and a few other spices.
Amazingly enough it was actually kind of good! Something you might have at Christmas – like a mulled-wine or spiced cider. Of course all the carbonation had been fizzed out of it in heating, and to my tongue it was a bit syrupy, but the concept was quite unique and not unpleasant. I was told it was a common beverage served during the spring festival and cold winter months. As my feet were thoroughly soaked and cold from melted snow on the hike, it didn’t go unappreciated.
Someone else told me there was also a chilled version of the drink that is very nice in the summer – iced coke and ginger, where it’s served cold and similarly spiced. I’ll get back to you in a few months about this one.
Walking around the park in the winter -- waiting for summer.
Beijing is mostly a summer city. Although it has lovely sections year round, it’s really about the summer when you can sit in the parks, go out on the lakes in the little boats, and enjoy walking through the temples. Most public attractions are, for all intense and purposes, outside.
This is a picture from Huhai lake, an area just to the north-west of the Forbidden City. In the winter people skate on the lakes, and even more commonly, use poles to scoot around on chairs with runners. Now that it’s the end of February, as the ice gets a little less thick, I feel more and more that we’re all just waiting for spring. Summer dresses, and no more bulky winter coats.