Feed on

… read part one here.

There is a completely different approach to inclement weather in Beijing.
The lightest spit of rain scutters all the locals of the street. They know those innocent rain drops will turn into a drenching storm faster than you can say ‘Peking duck should be served on china in China’.

Our private guide, Ma Ling, is a local Beijinger. She met us in the lobby of our hotel, to help plan our four day stay. Just before she leaves I ask her for a local recommendation.
I’ve been dreaming of trying authentic Chinese roast duck, Peking style.
She tells us that the most famous Duck restaurant in the capital is Qanjude. She explains that the company has a history of roasting duck since 1864 … and the outlet on Qianmen Street was not far.

“Everyone famous have eaten there.” She added as we parted for a highly anticipated evening. “You will find Qianmen Street easy, this street no traffic allowed, only ten minutes from here.”

Forty-five minutes later we still hadn’t spotted the two famous tram cars parked at the entrance to the street.

She had obviously meant ten minutes by taxi … not ten minutes by foot.

Little drops of rain, as tepid as old bath water, plop down as a warning. At first it’s almost refreshing—a relief from the oppressively humid heat that embraces the city, trapped under a permanent silver cover of cloud and pollution.
We watch the locals dash for shelter and open the umbrellas proffered to us by the clever hotel concierge, just as the downpour began in earnest.

Another fifteen minutes of trudging along and the kids start getting restless. My son swirls his umbrella spraying water all over me. My daughter giggles. I throw them both a Mum’s ‘not terribly amused’ look but let it slip. It’s getting dark and they are bored and hungry. Determinedly I forge ahead, leading the way across streets whose pitched tar normally ripples with the heat of the Beijing summer—but was now transformed black and slippery by rainbow-slicked, ankle deep, streams.

We cross the eight lanes of Qianmendong Road via one of the under-pass walk ways. Below the street, we have to manoeuvre our way around all the people sitting on the steps waiting the rain out. Wispy spirals of cigarette smoke rise above the heads of small groups chatting quietly, protectively careful as a group not to disturb an old man who lies sleeping, mouth ajar, on a flattened tatty cardboard box.

We stop briefly to check out some copy-cat Nike gear cunningly displayed in an old ladies shopping cart. The young man squatting points at a t-shirt “90 Yuan.” he said.
“That’s not bad for genuine fake.” my husband comments as I haul him away.

read part three here.

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