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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

N. China - Day 9, Part 3 - Great Wall (Mutianyu)

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less." - Marie Curie


N. China
Day 9 - 7th November - Great Wall (Mutianyu)
(Part 3)

Now it was time to descend the Wall. Although we had bought return tickets for the cable car, there was another method of descent that looked much more fun:

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Wiegand-Toboggan-Run (Sports Slide)

The signage is interesting, because the English and Mandarin versions are very different. The English version starts off with how the Toboggan is fun ("How to Enjoy Your Toboggan Ride"). Yet, in the Mandarin version:

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"The slide is a physical activity in which each individual will face danger"

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People having fun sliding down

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Part of the course

Part of my ride

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Costumed individuals waiting to fleece tourists at the exit

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The Toboggan is the "Nonirrigated farmland sled". Also there're numbers for an ambulance, the police and a complaint hotline above the faded picture of ang moh women sliding down with delirious looks on their faces.

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A delicious juxtaposition of Mao and Female Nudes

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"Folk Art
China one certainly
Pure Manual Manufacture
Mutian Valley Great Wall"

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Three Views of the Wall

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Super faded photos of a costumed artist, with his uniform which is only slightly less faded. They've seen better days.

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Pig brand fertiliser (I think)

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"Fresh Italian Coffee
Fresh Columian coffee
I don't trust this. Two types of coffee?

Red Bull cost ¥10 at the bottom.

A vendor was selling Little Red Books for ¥180. This was 6 times the price in Pingyao, which doubtless was an inflated price itself. I told the woman I already had one, and she started shouting "讨厌" ("I hate you!" - this seems to be a term used in flirting contexts, but her tone was definitely not flirty) at me. I was told that in Dongbei I could be hit for asking for quotes and then telling shopkeepers I already had the item(s) in question. Ahh, uncivilised countries!

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Racist bag (juxtaposing Obama with Mao)

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"egg pancake with apple
egg pancake with fried dough stick
beef noodel chicken noodle"
I didn't trust this pancake stall either

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"Thin pancake, or Chinese Hamburger, is something quite unique of Beijing. It is rarely found in other parts of the country. When presented with a fried dough stick condiments inside,or With banana,apple,oreven with chocolate.chicken strawbrry It can be prepared on the spot on buyer's request."
I trusted it even less after reading this

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"Picking up Holiday
Farm-flavor Restaurant
Restaurant Whiff Barbecue...
Farm-Flavor Barbecue"

For lunch we surveyed the area, and were faced with lots of overpriced options. In protest, we decided to have Subway, since it was the least overpriced (the other options were so overpriced, they cost more than they would've in Singapore - but Subway was about the same). Though the large Coke here was equivalent to the medium in Singapore.

To return to a place from which we could take the bus, we took a "黑车" (literally "Black Car"). At first I thought this referred to their colour, but really it referred to their legal status (though most of them were black!) The driver originally quoted us ¥50 per duo, so we refused, but another duo came along and we got a price of ¥30 per duo.

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"Don't Disturb the Drive"
Cute cartoon

Seeing how quick people were to rush for seats on the Beijing subway and their general ungraciousness, I decided to conduct an experiment. I took out my stick and used it somewhat ostentatiously. As I expected, no one gave up his seat to me; hell, one seat was even snatched from me. In contrast, in Singapore someone would always do so - unless the train was so crowded no one sitting down could see me. Also, contrary to what someone had observed, I saw no one reading books on the subway. Perhaps because it was so crowded there was no space to do so.

For dinner I met some NUS students studying in BJ, of whom I knew a few. Since I was not the only foreign visitor, we went to the Dadong restaurant. Which was so atas they covered our coats and bags left on chairs with covers.

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"Caesar Salad. House Innovation"
Go figure.

Carbohydrates were served in per person portions for some reason; this place was basically modern Chinese food.

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"Ice Cream. House Innovation"
Go figure.

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Condiments platter for Peking Duck
The 3 ways of eating Peking Duck we were presented with: dipping in sugar, the traditional pancake with hoisin sauce (including meat) and putting the cuts inside a puff with hoisin, cucumber and garlic

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Carving the duck

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Peking Duck, pancakes and puffs
Besides the Peking Duck coming with skin, the pancake was also different. It was smooth and thick, not thin and veined as in Singapore. Of course, different does not mean worse, but in this case it was. Yet they won many awards, like City Weekend 2009's Best Peking Duck Readers Choice.

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Grilled Eggplant. It had a very earthy taste which came from too much star anise.

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Duck Soup

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Fried Millet with River Eel - "小米饭"
It reminded me of couscous

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Ee Fu noodles with lobster. This was a bit nua (soft). I was told the lobster tasted like hae bi (prawn floss) and the soup was not full enough of flavour.

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Sour-hot fish fish. "ming2 lu2 chu1 jiao1 gui1 yu2" (Salmon, I think). Someone heard 贵鱼 (expensive fish).
The soup had a delicate balance and the richness of the bones was great. However the flesh didn't come off smoothly.

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Chilled hawthorne. It was dry and refreshing.

Dinner came up to ¥156 per pax.

When I got back to the hostel I wanted to bathe after climbing the Great Wall, since I was going to take 2 night trains in a row. However, the reception said that I could've done it in the afternoon but not now - since the guests would want to use the bathroom. This despite my former room having only one occupied bed and an ensuite bathroom. So much for winning Best Hostel awards. Moral of the story: it is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission!

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Hutong alley around hostel

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2 grades of waiting room - Soft Seat and normal (presumably Hard Seat)

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In the train station they flashed a hygiene tip about not going to work if you were sick, and not sneezing with an open mouth. Good luck.

The McDonalds in Beijing had no apple pie, only taro and pineapple. I was told they had apple pie before the middle of the year.

I was told that 方大同's (Fang Datong) 爱爱爱 ("Love Love Love") kept being played in Beijing Macs, and that those in other provinces also played 方大同 songs, but not 爱爱爱.

The Beijing subway had lots of automatic ticketthis is spectacularly enforced.using them I found out why - my notes kept getting rejected.

Apparently street vending is illegal at least in Beijing if not in the whole of China. Evidently

Tourists from Korea have their Korean names and Chinese characters on cards around their necks.
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