If riding horseback along glacial mountains wasn’t enough, we took our Honeymoongolia to Beijing where we spent a few days exploring the 8th most populated city in the world.
The key to this big city adventure starts with location. We stayed at a hotel hidden in the old hutong (alleyway) neighborhoods where our room was a small apartment separate from the hotel and nestled between people’s homes. It was like we lived there which is all I ever like to imagine when I travel. The brunch at the hotel restaurant is a destination in itself and the staff basically helped us plan out our entire stay. If we never asked questions, we would’ve had to rely on Bing since Google is blocked China. Bing it!
The awesome walking map created by the hotel was our go to for cocktails, dinners, and sights, while the staff were happy to guide us too. My favorite was when Joel, the owner, helped us with our last evening in the city. We ventured to TRB Bites for a cocktail after putting our name in for his favorite spot for Peking duck, Siji Minfu, down the road. I’m a vegetarian in real life, but man, there’s nothing like dipping crispy duck skin in sugar. My mouth is watering right now.
Everything moved and breathed on the streets and I wish we could’ve stayed, mostly because there was so much to eat. I dubbed the afternoons, “sticks time” because that was when I set out to find a snack on a stick along Nanluoguxiang walking street. Then I’d go look at puppies and kittens at the nearby pet store. In America, I want a dog. But in my fantasy life as an expat in Beijing, I’d for sure be a cat lady.
Do you ever wonder about the life you would lead in the places you visit? In Beijing, I imagined myself super on top of fashion trends, riding a motorbike to work, exploring the art district on the weekends, and sitting outside at night in the old neighborhood streets with my friends to watch the world go by. Sticks time would be every day, on top of my weekly fix of Mr. Shi’s dumplings. When I’d feel full, I’d expose my belly like the men do, and rub it with glee.
And then the trip was finished just like that. The honeymoon is over! I've been waiting to use that phrase. Now it's back to work again, a little bit better for having explored and experienced China and Mongolia together, and to have crossed paths with so many people who lead such interesting lives. While it's definitely over now as I write this post, I had this unwavering certainty hit me somewhere out there on the road. For us, at least, the honeymoon has only just begun.