I was expecting to suffer serious jetlag – but arriving at night after 24 hours of travelling beat me up. I melted into my bed and woke around 9 am. After mulling around, I made it out to the hotel’s courtyard for breakfast where I ordered a Beijing style Full English – complete with fried egg, biscuit, mushrooms, tomato, and bacon. Kicking the day off with a fried egg seemed to be an impossible thing to top – but the food only got better.
Joel, the owner of the hotel, wrote out directions to a lunch place and included the list of dishes to order. We feasted on over 7 Chinese dishes of spicy pork, sausage, tripe and cold beef in peanut sauce, bitter mellon, eggplant, scrambled egg with shrimp, and noodles. There was enough food for five people, and we barely made a dent in it. Normally, I’d feel bad, but it only set us back 135 yuan – roughly $21.
The entire day wasn’t spent eating – quite a bit of exploring and wandering and people watching was done. The hotel is near the Drum and Bell Tower and we decided around noon to wander towards it for a tour. As we approached the site, lots of police were bustling us in a different direction. There was a big fuss and we weren’t sure why so we crawled through alley ways and around hutongs to reach the other side of the Towers, hoping to find another entrance.
At that point there was Chinese military and police everywhere – and more noticeably: tall white men in suits. C and I were confused as to what was going on, and when we looked away D went up and talked to one of the white men. Before long we were chatting up Tom, a white house staffer (secret service – guessing by the ear piece). Turns out VP Biden would be dining around the corner and they were securing the area. Tom was hoping to get us a handshake or hello – but we didn’t have the correct lapel pins to identify us as safe so the Chinese police shoved us into the noodle place next door as Biden’s motorcade arrived. Black suburbans barreled down the narrow hutong streets at high speeds – but we never got a glimpse of Biden. y.
The rest of the day was uneventful, in the most relaxing and perfect way. In the evening we found a whisky bar near our hotel and grabbed a drink. Exhausted, we wandered back to the hotel for snooze. I feel like a part of the neighborhood – I can’t wait to see what the hutong is buzzing about today.