Today we woke up at 7am China time to head down for a buffet breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast is set in the lobby/rain-forest that actually contains real tropical birds. When we went to the counter we found fresh fruit, pastries, juice & yogurt. I thought that it was OK, but nothing special. Then j-street walks off and when I see he is heading into a large room filled with food! It had everything from dumplings to bacon, fried rice to hash browns and some porridge-soup thing that you mix yourself.
I would never imagined thinking that a buffet could have too much choice, but I think I spent longer deciding what I could fit on my plate and stomach than actually eating it. We then got a taxi to go to work, bringing with us a business card with the location of the office and a hand written note explaining where to go. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough for the taxi driver, so we had to direct him manually using only hand gestures. Luckily it was pretty straight forward, but j-street was going to send him in the wrong direction. We were charged 3x more than when we went home last night, we are fairly sure it was because our taxi was unmetered and we are tourists. We paid about 5 KFC coffees worth for the taxi ride, but it was still under $5AUD.
For lunch the guys took us out to a delicious dumpling restaurant. I was still full from breakfast of champions so I asked how big the dumplings were, they assured me they were quite small. They told us it was small, but the food was the best this side of town – they were right on both counts. The shop looked tiny; they didn’t even have enough chairs for us so they had to set some up. The place lacked any aesthetics, but made up for it sheer yumminess. When the food arrived, it was 5 giant plates of dumplings! They were great and full of flavour especially when dipped in the spicy Chengdu source. Photos pending.
After work at around 6:30pm, we went to the shops that stay open till at least 10pm. We had food-court food which is unlike any food court food I have seen. We got another hot-pot, chickens feet, dumplings, spicy cold rice noodles and pumpkin. The idea of having your own meal and not sharing is non-existent in China and double dipping with chop sticks is always the way to go.
We then went shopping in a department store where I found out the hard way that they don’t accept our credit cards. And by ‘our’ credit card, I mean Australian Visa – they accept Visa just not if it is ours. So the trick is to carry cash, but if you carry too much you paint a giant target on your back saying ‘rob me!’ so it is a balancing act of always having enough but not an excess. We then went to the China version of Coles, which wasn’t that disimilar except for a few things. Firstly you can buy alcohol there, but that is quite common in other countries I have been in such as Thailand and Japan. Secondly, you buy real living fish to take home alive then kill. j-street was really amazed by this and insited on having his photo taken with the fish (pending). What puzzled me was their was a plastic tag that was punctured through each fish, which I think is a bit mean. Finally, there was a English speaking checkout queue which I thought was pretty cool, though I wouldn’t rely on that service very heavily.