As a vegetarian, you never expect to write an ode to food in China. And yet, here I am trying my best not to break into poetry as I describe the two weeks I spent in the country. Which is difficult, as my experience feels like all puppies and butterflies — and surprisingly, not in the literal sense.
We were 4 hours outside of Beijing, driving through small villages — which mean something very different in China. In a country pushing 1 billion, a modest village can include 460,000 people. But the number of inhabitants does not directly correlate to the condition of a town, city or village. Our black, shiny car stood out amidst all of the motorbikes, minibuses and stray chickens. We had just come from spending a night at the great wall — a lesser known area with very limited tourists. Our morning jaunt up the wall (to catch the sunrise) involved seeing 8 other people, all from other parts of china, and most wanting to take their pictures with us as we were the first foreigners they’d ever seen. I was actually quite surprised that I stood out so much. After spending two weeks in Japan with all the super hot, tall girls in fancy clothing and fake eyelashes, I stood out like a sore thumb in my travel attire (which had become strangely similar to my non travel attire) of hiking boots, unflattering jeans and a sweatshirt). But in China, I felt quite at home in my style. Daniel had taken up the habit of pointing out middle aged Chinese women who shared my fashion sense, and I had, many times, made a promise to start dressing cooler when I got home. But for now, from the back, despite the slight wave in my hair, you couldnt necessarily tell that I wasnt from the country. It was around 8am when our driver, Pei, pulled the car over to a psuedo strip mall parking lot on the side of the road. The lot was dirty, and only dotted with one or two broken down cars, a bicycle, a pullcart, and (as per usual) a handful of chickens. I wasnt that hungry, and considering I was in China, where, you know, they eat dog and all, I wasnt feel too optimistic about what we would find here. But Pei insisted that it was a good, quick place to stop on our long drive home. He thought he had been there once before.