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December 28, 2013

Christmas dinner, hutong style

I have been on R&R in Beijing over Christmas. Its a strange time with modern China getting in on the commercial side without really understanding its meaning. That said, I’m happy to be here, and I love the place. The main downside here to me is access to my blog and Twitter is blocked by the government, so I now have two weeks of travel news to update you on when I reach Hanoi. Other than that the only other mild annoyance is the large number of well polished scammers that target Westerners everywhere with a brilliant story about their art class or a tea ceremony in great English. It is hard not to be taken in, as they seem so plausible. I got approached twice today, but managed to stop myself both times and say “hang on..”

I woke up this morning seriously smelling of sheep, to be more specific, spit roast lamb. I feel like I ingested a whole one last night with Paul (of carriage 6 fame). He had identified a place buried deep in the hutongs that specialised in this. The only problem was finding it.. In the end we took a strange moped taxi (a sort of “Hong Kong Phooey” mobile) which provided much entertainment weaving through gaps in the traffic and backstreets delivering us to the door of Tan Hua Lamb BBQ. What a meal, and it cost just a couple of hundred Yuan. It helps if you have some butchery skills, but even if you don’t, after a while they take pity on you and take a cleaver to the joint!

I have the tickets for my next leg – Beijing – Hanoi. it’s slightly bizarre in that in line with international train ticket conventions the languages on the ticket are Russian, German and Chinese – so quite hard for an Englishman to get his teeth into. All looks in order, and I even managed to get into Beijing West railway station yesterday for a quick recce – pleased I did as I now understand where I’m going.. Not sure how comfy this leg is going to be as I’m sharing a four berth soft sleeper with any other passengers mad enough to take a slow train across China in three days, when they now have high speed lines that can get you to Hong Kong in just eight hours.

Think that’s all for now – I’m off to have my feet seen to after two weeks pumelling them in my big boots in the snow and ice… Oh, one other thing. I have found two bolts in my luggage from my Trans-Mong window. I feel a bit guilty about that, and hope they will be able to fix it okay. I’m wondering if I might have left it close to actually falling off as I think I unbolted the whole frame by mistake.

3 Comments on “Christmas dinner, hutong style

Anonymous
March 5, 2016 at 5:47 pm

Absolutely brilliant. Just spent a lazy Saturday afternoon reading your blog…..brought back plenty of memories, good and bad of my 2013 Trans-Siberian trip, and wetted my travel buds for my next adventure: Beijing-Lhasa-Xi'an-Shanghai-Hong Kong, this April/May. Took plenty of advice with me for my pending trip and look forward to reading your future travels. Loved the pics and been shared on facebook. Paul…aka from cabin 6 🙂

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Matthew Woodward
March 5, 2016 at 6:04 pm

Paul – hope you enjoyed my blog, especially the recent Tibet stuff given your next trip. If you have any questions or need help do get in touch. Very best Matt

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Anonymous
March 5, 2016 at 6:21 pm

Really good reading. Plenty of useful info about the train into Lhasa e.g altitude and Beijing West. Just trying to negotiate the Chinese Visa's at the the moment….especially the Tibet thing, China Highlights travel company are being very helpful. If I have any questions i'll give you a shout 🙂

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