For me, travel is all about the food. Of course, there are other things I enjoy — sight seeing, shopping, outdoor adventures, etc. I believe that the dining experience, however, is highly representative of the cultural lifestyle. It’s always worthwhile to get out of the hotel and sample the local cuisine, preferably at the less touristy locales. You learn so much, and I just love tasting my way through a city.
I crave the savory spices of this area of China. Last night, we met a couple of other pilots from our flight for dinner. The four of us enjoyed dry braised string beans, garlic shrimp, cashew chicken, beef on a sizzling platter, shredded potatoes, steamed rice, beer, and soda for the equivalent of approximately $8 U.S. per person. The service was prompt and courteous. We felt welcome and well cared for while kicking off our trip with a delicious meal.
After dinner, we strolled through a few of the local markets, went to the tailor, did some shopping, and then topped off our evening by sampling some of the spa services, enjoying affordable massages and pedicures. My traditional Chinese massage was somewhat painful, focusing on deep pressure points, but I think that some of those chronic knots in my shoulders may have been eased a bit. In broken English, the therapist kept exclaiming “Sore, very sore” while pushing down with his thumbs until I winced. He asked a second therapist, who spoke better English, to inquire about what I did for a living. When I said I was a writer, they simply nodded, as if spending so much time at a keyboard or handling a pen and paper explained everything.
The first time I got a massage, the knots in my back were so big that as the masseuse loosened them, I had this weird emotional meltdown. I kept my cool, barely, but I thought I was going to either panic or start bawling. It’s amazing how stress contains itself in your body, isn’t it?
Glad to hear you’re enjoying everything Beijing has to offer. The food sounded delcious and amazingly inexpensive! I agree that getting out of the hotel room and trying out the local unknown spots is the best way to learn. You see your life differently when you get back.
I have aches in my upper back all the time, and I do think the computer has something to do with it. Writing is a lonely (and now painful) vocation. But I bet you’ll keep coming back for more.
That sounds awesome! But I’m a little dissapointed that your food choices were so safe. I love to watch the food network and travel shows where they eat the stuff you can’t get at Panda Express.