Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dumplings and Markets

I was talking the other night to Daniel from the Philippines, who works in an American Express call center there, and saves up diligently to travel every chance he gets. He was a very talkative, friendly guy who occupied the bunk opposite me. He has traveled throughout a great deal of Asia, and hopes to visit the US someday. His words of wisdom to me were that you can visit a place and do nothing. You don't have to set an agenda, you can just lay in bed if you want, and get out and see stuff whenever you want, and do whatever you want. Because that's what traveling should be about, doing what you want to do, and enjoying travel the way you want to enjoy it. Right on.

Yesterday morning, a couple from England who had been in my room came up to the rooftop garden while I was letting some clothes dry up there. I like to let my clothes dry outside until they are no longer dripping, and then bring them inside to hang near my bed frame to dry the rest of the way. So we talked for a while while I was monitoring the drying of my clothes. 

They were spending their last night in the room at the hostel, and were going to camp out on a secluded spot on the Great Wall. We got to talking about politics, and they said they loved Bernie Sanders (I find that a lot of the young people in the hostels really dig Bernie).  I told them I had done some work to help Bernie get on the ballot in Texas, and they were thrilled. I also told them about my congressional campaign a couple of years ago.

I was surprised to see them light up a spleef on the rooftop. To me, it had seemed like China and weed might not be compatible, though I really hadn't thought about it. But apparently it is possible to score weed in China. I didn't ask about the particulars.
Yesterday, I just wandered around Beijing aimlessly, as I have mostly been doing. There was a brisk wind, which helped with the pollution, as the wind seemed to blow it away and the sky was relatively clear. The day before, the pollution had been awful. But apparently on days when there is rain or wind, the pollution is chased away.

Then I got back to the hostel in time for a dumpling making party. They had the dough and fillings made, and we all rolled out little circles of dough, and then filled them with whatever fillings we wanted, and folded then in half, and sealed the edges. Then they took them off and boiled them, and returned them to be served to us. It was a great way to learn about Chinese cooking and to meet people at the hostel.

Today, I set off to the Silk Market with Simon from the Netherlands, who I met last night at the dumpling party. I needed to get a packable down shell coat for cold weather, and I had been waiting to get to China to get one. But, stupid me, I screwed myself in bargaining...things were happening fast,  and I wasn't paying attention to the exchange rate, but, rather, concentrating on how much the price had come down from the original. I ended up paying about three times what I could have bought it for in the US online. Oh, well, another expensive lesson. I didn't even realize it until afterwards when I calculated the exchange rate of what I had paid.  Next time, I'll figure that out beforehand, so I'll have a benchmark. And I'll only carry the amount I want to pay in my wallet.  But I really don't need to buy any more goods, except for maybe a warm neck ring.

1 comment:

  1. I travel the same way. No itinerary, no plans. I just wander around, meet people, stumble onto things. I've never been bored.