No major plans for the day, M and I set out on a dumpling quest. Very cold out, though. We’d had plans to walk around the south side of tiennamen square, but opted to go through it on the north end, instead. The security line on the south side of the street was better than on the side by the forbidden city, and it only took us a few minutes to get through.
We made our way up to the square and I immediately dropped my phone. Not a long drop, but it must’ve been especially brittle due to the cold. The screen shattered. It still turned on, and the camera lens seemed okay, so I snapped a couple of pictures and we kept moving.
We hoped to walk around the lakes to the west of the forbidden city (aka palace museum) but the things that had looked like through streets on my map were guarded gates. Bummer. We walked north and finally spotted a hutong that might be interesting. We walked maybe a block and found a dumpling shop. Used the “vegetarian, but I eat seafood card” and got a mushroom dumpling and a shrimp & cabbage (leek?) dumpling. M didn’t care for them, but I thought they were alright. We warmed up at our table by the heater and watched their tv program on how they make their dumplings
After that, M decided to head back to the hotel for a bit, but I was still hoping to find some interesting areas to walk through. I kept going north, but when it started snowing again, I thought maybe M had the right idea. Cold, and not keen to use an unheated public restroom, I was hoping the touristy area near the exit of the forbidden city would have a warm coffee shop or even a mall (heated!) Eventually I gave up, and was pleased to find that the public restroom had not only soap, but a heated hand dryer! Fancy!
I plodded along in the general direction of the theater where we’d be meeting later, and stopped in at a few shops to warm up as much as to look at anything in particular. At the Wumart, I finally found some cucumber gum (in a container with a variety of flavors). Also picked up some cumin lamb flavor and some yogurt flavor potato chips to go along with the cucumber ones I already had.
M had made it back and was warm, but not feeling up to the ~3 mile walk to the theater, so I headed out on my own. Wandered through the cutest hutong yet, and even spotted a place selling the spicy scallion pancakes (but nobody around to sell me one). Didn’t find the hutong museum I’d been hoping to see, but maybe I’ll find it (and try the pancake) when I return.
Kept walking and came out on a big street, with lots of restaurants and normal shops. Stopped and got a scallion pancake at one sidewalk stand. Ate it under a tree, leaning against a fence next to some parked scooters. It was still snowing.
Kept walking, turned right on a main thoroughfare, and recognized some of the buildings we’d driven by on the way to the Great Wall. Eventually made it to the theater, with 15 minutes to spare. Ordered a (hot!) coconut milk boba thing to try and stay warm while I waited outside for M & S to arrive.
The acrobatic show was impressive in many ways, but rough around the edges. In some ways, that made it even more exciting (if they can’t cut between songs smoothly, if they drop the hats they’re juggling and have to fuss with a clearly broken costume while being lifted high in the air…what’s going to happen when they put EIGHT motorcycles in a spherical cage at the same time?). Nobody died or was injured though, so it’s all good. At the end of the show, a voice came on the loudspeaker and said, “the show is over.” So we took the not so subtle hint and got outta there.
We took the subway back to a stop near the hotel and stopped in at a hot pot place for dinner.
I’m going to have to try and get my phone screen replaced. I can’t take photos while it’s in a ziploc. And I don’t want shards of glass on everything. Sad.