|The Great Wall|
China is a fascinating country. The fact that it is the most populous country in the world with the communist regime keeping a check on every citizen's fundamental rights is something that I have not experienced in India or the United States. Though, with all the dangers that behold the world, no country can safely say that it does not monitor its citizens.
Exploring other cultures and understanding their day to day lifestyle is a great aspect of travel. Anyway, I was on a one week business trip to China and my trip was filled with interesting experiences.
Day 0 - Vegetarian
The start could not have been worse. As I got into the flight, I realized that I did not mention about my dietary requirements at the time of booking. So, I asked the stewardess if there was any option of me getting a vegetarian meal.
She asked me, "Have you mentioned it at the time of booking?"
I said, "No"
"Then sorry. We don't bring vegetarian meals unless specified."
Anyway, for one of the meals, the stewardess said that there is vegetarian option and I can have it.
"Are you sure there's no meat?", I asked.
"Of course. It's only quiche."
As I took the lid off the bowl, I noticed a beef patty lurking in the corner."
There went my vegetarian option.
|Dal Makhani and Rice|
Day 1 - The tryst with the strangers
|Smog, not fog|
|Just like India|
|Waiting for the bus|
"Since you guys are anyway hanging out here, why don't we take a small walk around the place?"
We didn't see the harm in it. And as we walked on the small street adjacent to the Square, we came across a tea shop.
They said, "OK, we are going to have some tea and then move on. Why don't you guys join us?"
I was in no mood for tea, but then, we agreed to get in.
They ordered tea, and some beer for my colleague.
We continued talking.
I was already in a hurry to leave. I mean, I didn't want to spend the little time I had in a tea shop. In spite of my badgering, they ordered some red wine. It was supposedly a 1994 Cabernet. I politely declined.
After some time, when they saw that I really wanted to leave, they asked the waitress to bring the bill. My colleague volunteered to pay the cheque using his card. We saw it was about 298 RMB (50 USD). Then, the waitress came back after some time and said, "The card's not going through. We need cash."
It was only then that we saw that the bill was not 298 RMB but 2980 RMB. We almost freaked out. 500 USD for tea, beer and wine. We immediately knew it was a scam. We argued with them for about 45 minutes, and finally ended up paying 100 USD and walked out.
It was foolish on our part, but a lesson well learnt for a few dollars.
When I came back to the US, I narrated this to my friend who has been to China multiple times. He told me that it was very common and that he had told me about this after his first visit. He told me that he had mentioned it on his blog as well.
Maybe I had forgotten. But, now I will never forget this incident.
Day 2 - Pure Lotus
|What an exotic restaurant|
Four of us in the evening decided to have a hearty meal. So, we decided to take a visit to a pure vegetarian place (Pure Lotus) thanks to my boss's insistence. We had to take two subways to reach the place. It did take a little bit of hunting to get to the place. We had to take a deviation on the main road to go through a narrow alley to reach the place. As we reached the entrance, a person holding a huge lamp guided us to the hotel. From there, the owner took us inside and after walking a few meters, took us to a waiting area. The place was truly exotic. It was modeled on the theme of caves found near the Silk Road(or Route) in Chengdu and has some kind of historic significance.
|This was fantastic|
Trip Advisor calls this as a classy restaurant in the region. When we told the waitress if the food is really good here, she just said,
"We don't claim anything. It's just that everybody who comes here says the food is good."
Modesty, we thought.
Anyway, we soon got to the dining area after a wait time of about 30 minutes. The food was truly exotic and so was the price. It was really expensive. The food was good too.
We ate heartily, and walked back two and a half miles back to the hotel. On the way back, we admired the tall structures and wondered how China had transformed itself in the last twenty years.
Day 3 - Peking Duck
The place was crowded on a weekday. And the Beijing traffic was so intense that we had to wait in the traffic for about 45 minutes just to get to this place during peak hour.
I also told my colleagues that I am taking a one day tour to Great Wall the next day. They were like, "Did you research properly? Don't be too adventurous."
|At the restaurant|
|The Great Wall|
|The new Usain Bolt|
|Beijing International Airport|
It was an eventful trip, and just like any travel, I had experiences only to gain.