Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Beautiful Beijing

Some shots from the Badaling portion of The Great Wall
Our trip to China was wonderful! Apart from Hangzhou in south-eastern China we also went to Beijing and Shanghai. I really can't say which was the best part about being in Beijing because I loved every moment and each part (from whatever I saw) of this beautiful city. The first place that we headed to was the Great Wall. There are several points where one can climb and we opted for the one that's most popular with tourists, the Badaling portion.
The atmosphere was festive with hundreds of domestic tourists carrying water and plenty of food. The stalls were stacked with souvenirs and food.
We climbed The Wall!!

Although the hotel that our agent booked for us was nothing to write home about, it was located on a street that was abuzz with activity. Eateries dotted both sides of the street and the fruits were indeed the sweetest and the juiciest!
The sweetest of them all!!
Peaches and nectarines, pears, plums, apples, grapes, Chinese gooseberries and some that I did not recognize were all there. These were sold outside small convenience stores. To see such variety of the freshest produce was heaven! Needless to say we g-o-r-g-e-d!!
Breakfast menu on "our" street

Before I went to China I didn't know about congee. It's porridge made of rice and served with crullers. (See photo of crullers on the collage, top right). It's eaten with salted duck eggs and various accompaniments like bamboo shoots, pickled cucumber/cabbage and some more that I couldn't quite make out. Said to be a classic Chinese breakfast dish, I loved the combination. It reminded me of our own "maidi" which literally translates to "rice water". A handful or a fistful of rice (mairong mjemshi) goes into a pot with plenty of water and cooked till the rice is soft and the mixture is creamy. It's seasoned with a touch of salt and usually served warm to those who are ailing and unable to eat anything else. When I'm down with fever that's what I have and immediately feel that I'm on the path of recovery. But it is not cooked as a regular breakfast dish. 

I loved having congee in China. While travelling it's safe to stick to a dish that does not have any oil. On the flight to Shanghai, the meal included the same with some whole beans. I noticed that some of the locals seated next to us had the congee and left the buns untouched. Reading up on congee, I found out that most rice-consuming nations have their own variations. In Korea it's juk, in Japan it's okayu, and in Thailand, it's jok. They are not all plain. Some have several additions of protein and vegetables. It's interesting to note that the word congee comes from Tamil  kanji.
Delicious steamed greens

Mouth-watering fried chicken with veggies
Fish with mushrooms and capsicum

An assortment of dried & fresh fruit near the Ming tombs
The icing on the cake was Peking duck which I will include in a different post. Shanghai and Hangzhou were equally delightful but more on that in my future posts. It didn't matter that we didn't speak the language. The sights and the sounds of this beautiful country will be cherished for a long long time.
Thank you for stopping by today. Hope you all have a good week!

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