Monday 10 September 2007

China: to Beijing

Emirates flew us with great efficiency to Beijing via Dubai, a period which included some sleep, so we arrived with minimal crankiness.

We drove to the Red Capital Residence hotel tucked in one of the narrow alleys in the centre of the city in a preserved heritage district. The hotel is about the size of a tennis court with five rooms around a courtyard with woodwork painted in shades of bright red and car-primer red. We had one of the tiny corner rooms (one of two former concubine suites) which contained a four-poster bed draped in silk, and not much else. There was very little light and I was afraid that Mrs M would launch into one of her tizzies.....but it was not to be, because she had brought her own light bulbs (yes, it's true).

Batteries were refreshed before a short rickshaw ride to the Red Capital Club restaurant, located in a similar courtyard with a Chinese date tree elegantly draped overhead. The scrapbook-sized menu contained wonderful descriptions of dishes favoured by various Emperors and dignitaries. We chose the Peking Duck, which 'originated in the court of Kublai Khan during the Yuan Dynasty....a favourite of Ming Emperor Zhu Yuan Zhang who had the meaty ducks of Nanjing selected for palace palates.' A bowl of 'Monk's Meditation' rice and Chinese beer helped things along. The duck was quite superb.

We walked back through narrow dark lanes, past dimly lit houses where food was still being prepared and men huddled around upturned boxes slapping cards in a triumphant manner.

1 comment:

ian and jan said...

Can't believe you took the lightbulbs - well yes I can, actually!