As I was returning to my hotel, I met the hotel manager - a nice, friendly, talkative young guy in his mid to late 20's. We got chatting about travel and tourism in China, and when I told him I was from Canada, he was interested to learn about Canada. At the same time, I was picking his brains about travel information in Beijing.
When I told him that I was travelling by myself, he was quite surprised. I supposed not too many people like to travel alone. Often times taxi drivers, hotel employees, and restaurant employees are surprised to find out that I was travelling alone.
The hotel manager's name is San Kang. After chatting for a bit, he mentioned that there's a German couple that's also going to tour some of the places that I had planned to tour, and that it would be a good idea for the three of us to book a private taxi to visit the further out tour places like the Great Wall of China and Summer Palace, since it would be somewhat of a hassle to take the public tour busses, and splitting the cost 3 ways works out pretty cheap.
So I met the couple and we agreed to hire a taxi for the next day. The cost would be $600 yuan, divided by 3 that works out to $200 per person. That works out to just $25usd for a day of a private cab. We planned to head out the next day at 7:30am.
Lunch Time Near Ming Tombs
It was lunch time when we finished our Great Wall tour at Badaling. We were headed on our way to the Ming Tombs which was our next stop. But before the tour, we were going to fill our stomachs first.
The taxi lady (I called her Ms. Ma), took us to a local restaurant about 5 minutes away from Dingling of the Ming Tombs. As with many places in China, the restaurant was rather ghetto - strangely enough, this is one aspect of China that I've really grown attached to. It was scortching hot, luckily, the restaurant had air conditioning.
Fish From the Ming Tombs Water Reservoir
For lunch, being the only one who could read and speak Chinese, I had the pleasure of ordering the meal. I order 4 dishes, a mushroom soup of some sort, tiger skin green chilies, a local wild grown vegetable, and most interesting of all, a "boneless" fish from the Ming Tombs Water Reservoir.
A photo of our lunch: soup, 2 vegie dishes, and fish. The fish was steam with red chilies, cilantro, ginger, and green onions. The tiger skin green chilies are fried to blacken the skin, and then served with some chinese vinegar. The green vegie dish (which I have no clue what it's called) was stir fried with garlic and salt. I was told that the green vegies are local grown and hand picked the same day.
Photo of the german couple, who I
had the pleasure of touring Beijing with.
From what I was told (by the taxi driver, and the waitress), the fish was caught in the water reservoir by the Ming Tombs. Supposedly, it's illegal to fish in the reservoir, and getting caught would probably mean a big fine or jail time even. As well, the fish was supposed to be very different, that it had very little bones, which is why they say it's "boneless". It did have very few bones, but there were bones. Presumably, because the fish was rare and an illegal catch, it cost about half of the meal.
Of course, it could just be a total rip off to make money off of the tourists. That, I'll never know. But the taxi lady was nice enough, and maybe she was telling me the truth? The meal cost $400 yuan, or about $50USD, which according to our standards in north america is about average, but for the local Chinese, $400 yuan is about 1/3 of the monthly average earnings.