Before you read, please note: I actually wrote this last sunday, however, due to connectivity issues, was unable to upload video to YouTube, and consequently, post this post. Thankfully, after a few vpn tweaks, uploading is all saaweet!  So …

It’s Saturday night, you’re new in town so it’s encouraged to accept invitations to go out whenever they come your way.

So, frenchy & I went out for dinner/drinks saturday night with a group of people frenchy had met through work.  We ended up in a popular and very traditional chinese spot called BeiXinQiao (pronounced Bei-Jin-Ciao, or something like that ;-).  You may want to Wiki that.

This area is quite stunning to look at, with the rows and rows of red lanterns lighting up the strip for about 1km on either side of the road – beautiful! Click here for a perfect shot that’s far better than what I could ever produce.

There were many, what looked like really decent places to eat on the main strip, and I was expecting at any moment, to pull into one of them.

Except we didn’t.  We went down an alley (in my experience the odds are 80/20 here, 20 being good) and ended up in a what I can only describe as a ‘cubby hole’ for very small people. So, I thought, “calm down, this will be an outstanding cultural experience for you”, so I shut the hell up and tried to enjoy what was coming my way.

Lessons learned: Always ask what type of restaurant you are going to – don’t be shy.  Key things to ask:

  1. is there an english menu (not always required but can really save the day! particularly when you don’t eat toads or seafood)
  2. is it non-smoking, e.g, no one is allowed to blow smoke into your personal space while you are eating.
  3. do they have chairs that don’t resemble very thin planks of wood that cut off circulation to your legs.
  4. do they serve alcohol that doesn’t also fuel cars and other heavy machinery.
  5. do they have appropriate facilities e.g, glassware and a decent toilet.

Free mr froggie

Now, I’ve watched an “Idiot Abroad in China”, (courtesy of the one and only, BK Scorcese) so I’m aware they do find a toad quite tasty here.  I did not however, expect to find a pond in the foyer area, with toads in tow.  Very similar to a western chinese restaurant back home, where they have the live lobster, fish etc in the tank and you choose which one you want.  “Ah, excuse me waiter, I’ll take the toad, the one that has the most warts on it please”. Stomach churner.

Commonly referred to as ‘Chairs’

Moving onto the the chairs, that were quite literally very thin planks of wood welded onto poles. I’m not a carpenter but have heard the expression 2 x 2? Really wish I had my camera! No luxury for your rump here peeps. Not that there will every be a next time, but, I would encourage anyone who goes to this place, of which thankfully, I cannot recall the name) to bring a pillow, or put on a few kilo’s in the behind area before you go.

Le menu

The menu was all in chinese and there was no one to translate. No uncommon so not complaining, it just really helps a lot when you know what you are eating, particularly wen you have serious food allergies. Basically, they bring our their ‘house specials’ and we either accept or reject them. A few of the crew had been to this place before, and knew what was good and bad.  I ask myself “why would they go back?”.

Now, to be fair, albeit at some points I had no idea what I was eating, there were a couple of dishes that were very tasty. Unfortunately, those dishes, were placed at the other end of the table, where the peeps just dug in and didn’t really pass around for a bit of sharing is caring action.  So by the time it got down our end (if it did), there wasn’t much left.

Another small point, when I say ‘dug in’, I mean take your chop sticks that you have put in your mouth, and continue to pick up the food from the main dish with those chop sticks, then put the food in your mouth with the same chop sticks – repeat action.

I understand why vaccinations are required.  NB: must get booster shot immediately.

Between this, and the numerous smokers at the table who light up whilst you are eating, the evening made for a very lean dining experience.

My saviour

“Baijiu” to the rescue …this is not a drink for the dabblers. It is anywhere between 80 – 120% proof!  It comes served in a wee little silver jug, which somehow, never empties :)  It is not delicious, it’s equivalent to drinking Grappa, or Methylated Spirits.  Advised not to drink near a naked flame.

Yes, my friends, it gets your motor running!

This is drunk via a bowl, no glasses here, jsut bowls.  Hard to shoot the shot from a bowl.  Maybe you aren’t supposed to shoot it?

A few of these and who cares about the toads, food or chairs … and hell to it, let’s light up a cigarette. After all, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”.

Il Gabinetto (toilet)

I have no words for this other than, ” I did not go!”.  Warning, a barf bag may be required when watching this video. Yes, no camera but I had my FLIP HD.

Princess, or not?

Now if I had of asked the above queries and received truthful answers, I would not have entered the shack from middle earth.

If having these very basic items at your disposal in a restaurant makes you a princess, then hell to it, I am.

I’m not going to pretend that I would like to trek through Mongolia, eat 5 week old meat, drink horse milk, get diarrohea and make numerous ‘poop in hole’ stops on the way to the top of the mountain.  I’m not a rough it kind of gal, and this restaurant experience left me feeling dirty and dying for a pee!

However, it was eye opener and not something I’ve not experienced in any other country, so I’m very grateful the opportunity came my way :)

The end.