We spent most of the day inside our air-conditioned bus. 4 hours to Changde and 4 hours back “home”. (When I’m travelling, I always refer to the place I’m staying at as home. Is that weird?) Anyway, due to the hotel room party, we didn’t really get much sleep, so I pretty much slept during the whole drive up north to the Emperor’s summer residence. The “small town” (300.000 inhabitants – yes, Chinese measurements are weird) surrounded by desert-like landscape and with the new high-rise buildings reminded me a bit of Las Vegas. It all looked very artificial and modern, but the poor areas were even worse than in Beijing.
A local guide showed us around in the Summer Residence. We must have spent 3 or 4 hours walking along lakes, rivers, beautifully arranged gardens, and of course temples and souvenir shops. Compared to the hustle and bustle of Beijing, this was paradise. I am not going to talk about it to much, just let the pictures speak for themselves: However, we were not allowed to stay in our comfort zone for too long. In the evening, we visited the famous night market in Wangfujing.
I had the firm intention of eating one of those scorpions the street vendors sell, but when we entered the market, a cloud of thousands of different smells swallowed us. On both sides of the small street, there were little souvenir shops, their entrances being almost completely hidden by street vendors. Dumplings, spring rolls, nougat, my dear scorpions, bugs, flying foxes, starfish… you could get everything on a skewer. Oh ya, so the reason I didn’t manage to eat anything on that market: stinky tofu. I think it would have been manageable to stay at the market for a bit longer, and maybe even eat something, if it hadn’t been for that one obtrusive smell that makes every Western stomach revolt. Add the heat, the masses of people and the fact that we had been awake and being busy tourists all day and you get some tired, slightly annoyed and hungry people. Thank god, we found a small restaurant just a few metres from the market. The owners were the nicest people on earth. They even went to another restaurant in order to organize some peach flavoured iced tea for us because they didn’t have any left.
Before returning to the hotel, we paid one last visit to our favourite nightlife spot: HouHai. We even went to the bar where we played drinking games with the barkeepers on our very first night out. One of them also served us on that night and when we paid, we noticed that he had granted us a nice discount on our Tsingtao beers. Before we were able to get up and leave, he walked out of the bar, got on his motorbike and simply drove off into the night. Such a cool guy 😉