China Day 1 Night: Beijing

So this is the first post that i have ever lost. I wrote an awesome post detailing the nights escapades and while uploading from the ipad i lost it. In the middle of the upload my VPN kicked on and the program lost the post. Ugh. That sucks. Excuse my French. But i will labor on to tell the story… Again…

Post lunch I decided that a nap was in order. I had walked about 10 miles in the morning and I was a bit tired and happy to have eaten. Post nap it was time to find a night market. I called steve to try and connect, but i must have written down the number wrong, because I wasn’t able to reach him. I was bummed because I didn’t want him to think i blew him off, and the adventures are always more fun with a buddy!

I got directions from the front desk to the main night market. It’s hard when you can’t read street signs. It means that you have to use referential directions. “Go to the left, and then make a hard right, and then a quick left and then go east”. Um what direction is east,, and what is a “quick left”? Thankfully the walk over all was long but easy to navigate. Along the way there were lots of shop owners out on the sidewalk, seemingly escaping the heat radiating from all of the lights in their shop. The experience tonight was markedly different than this morning. While the stares and smiles remain, i didn’t get asked for any photo opps, I oddly felt a void.

I was definitely getting hungry along the way and the restaurant owners did a lot to grab attention using lots of red and.. well…lots of red lights to catch your eye. But one particular owner stepped up his marketing and added some blue lights to the red. And while It may sound trivial it was striking.

Good Marketing: The Blue Restaurant

When i turned on the night market’s street, it was both exciting but also different from what i expected. In Bangkok it’s just wild; people everywhere, food flying, loud chatter, all served off of mopeds, wheel barrows, bicycles. Here the stalls were nice! They had electricity, even water, the cooks were dressed in white and the food looked impeccable. This was big business for both locals and tourists alike. I found a stand selling roasted scorpions, i snagged one up, and it was tasty. Figuring I had more time, i pressed on to see all of the stalls. I did manage to snap a photo of a family struggling, almost as much as i was, with all of the food options.

What do we want?

At the end of the road there was a bright glow. Almost like that glow that’s in every alien movie right before the people get abducted. It was calling to me. So i ventured to the end of the long block to see it, and it was like arriving in Vegas.

Cartier, yes what size?

This was serious shopping and people watching. Michigan, Rodeo, Madison, all came to mind as i took it in. But before i could explore, i needed to double back to the stalls for some food and photos. That’s when I saw him.

The Fun Sucker

This gentleman was killing the power to the stalls. It was lights out and finito for the night for the food stalls. I was pissed at myself for not taking advantage sooner, and getting pretty damn hungry too. Facing hunger, i doubled back to Cartier, maybe there would be a Wolfgang Puck to keep with theme?

I am always struck by the versatility of the bicycle when i travel to Asia. This one in particular caught my eye looking delicious, but i wondered about the taste of exhaust, so I passed.


Pressing down the main promenade was awesome. Very chill and great energy. It reminded me a lot of Las Ramblas, in Barcelona. From young to old, all were out and exploring. I still don’t have my head around how the blatant consumerism lives along side communism, but that’s for another day. Now i was hungry and in search for food. Along the way, there were lots of places to get a drink, sip and talk, but there wasn’t much food still open.


I contemplated doubling back to my blue restaurant, but i was certain that I would be able to find something to eat. Surely people must get hungry! I had left the gummy lifesavers back in the hotel, so this was serious. As i was walking, i spotted it. The oasis.

The Oasis

Now before I get hate mail, it’s important for you to know that i am the black Anthony Bourdain. I am a huge explorer of food and like to sample all the local varieties on each trip. But post midnight after walking another 3 miles, McD can look mighty delicious. Tomorrow i would go back to grasshoppers, noodle, bao, etc. But for now, let’s just enjoy it.

The Precious

It was delicious, so fresh, crisp, tasty, and undersized :). I swear that international McD is better than domestic. I didn’t feel too bad about the splurge though because the place was packed with local families and students. After savoring every morsel of lettuce, i headed out to make the long journey back. I contemplated a taxi or tuk tuk (that’s what they call them in Thailand). As i was mulling the choice, the gentleman below started seducing a couple to take a ride.

Hey Friend…

They obliged and took off. With a few thousand extra calories in me, i felt compelled to walk at least some of it off. The walk back was uneventful. A scene caught my eye as I was passing one of the few remaining open stores.

A generation of jewelry

This jewelry store was shutting down for the night, and all of the workers are family. After i took this photo, one of the guys came over to chat, and he spoke amazing english. He told me the story of their store and how they were all related. Immediately my Lonely Planet “i am going to get hustled” alarm was raised, and dammit again it wasn’t warranted. The guy simply wished me well at the end of our chat and went back to closing up the shop.

The walk back was dark once i got off the main street. It was as if even more lights were out on the way back than on the way there! As my eyes slowly adjusted, I found the lone shop keeper still open at the end of the block. I used his light as a beacon to guide me back toward my hotel.

The lone shopkeeper

I am tired but it was a good day. Tomorrow should be fun if i can get up and make the sunrise TaiChi lesson….

PS The blue restaurant was closed on the way back!

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