China Traveler’s Tip: Always check your bill from your restaurant and hotels. As we were checking out this morning, the front desk/cleaning staff tried to tack on extra charges, claiming that we had used one of the for-pay packaged extras in the room. As soon as we double checked and then started kicking up a fuss though, they quickly said it didn’t matter and let us be on our way. This wasn’t the first time that this had happened when traveling in China unfortunately.
We were back on the road a little later than we would have liked but made pretty good time getting to Changli where my co-worker Cindy was going to meet us. Changli was a very typical Chinese city- very crowded, busy, and congested but nice enough with a big scenic mountain in the backdrop. It certainly didn’t have the eerie feel that Tangshan from the night before with its by the hour hotels had. We met up with Cindy, her husband, and her uncle, who led us through the town to a dumpling restaurant that had apparently been around for over 100 years. So we ordered up as much as we could trying four different kinds of dumplings plus some cold dishes, one of which was jellyfish (mmm, crunchy!)
After lunch it was just another 50km to Beidaihe where we would be meeting up with 4 other friends who had driven there by car (read about their trip on Dave’s blog here). This stretch of road was remarkably pleasant, since, as it was the off-season, there was hardly any traffic giving us nearly the entire road that paralleled the ocean to ourselves.
Once we got to Beidaihe, it wasn’t long before you could tell this wasn’t the season for tourists. Almost everything was closed down and under construction. The architecture was relatively kitschy and lots of signs were in Russian, apparently to cater to the flood of Russian tourists that arrive between May and October. But, even though it was rather cold, it was nice having the wide open and clean beach more or less to ourselves. So the 6 of us now, got some drinks and hung out next to the ocean until it was dark, at which point we wandered the town for a place to get some food. The night ended, several beers and a bottle of baijiu later, at a local pool hall.
One highlight of the night was stumbling on a Baijiu dealer, where they had giant vats of the Chinese liquor of varying strengths and ages. My friend Greg and I settled on a particularly nice brand of 52% strength that was aged over 20 years. Looking forward to having an occasion to enjoy that one!