We had heard there was a big farmers market in the vicinity and decided to go and have a look prior to moving out of the Hutong to the hotel where the trip starts from on Tuesday. We were therefore out by 8.30 and joined the early morning activity round the lake.
The market was great. A large covered area where vegetables, spices, meat and fish were on sale. It throbbed with activity. Discerning housewives doing their shopping for the family, older people with much smaller bags and chaps with huge amounts of stuff who I decided either had very big appetites, had large dinner parties to cater for or ran restaurants! Such was their food mountains that they carried off on the back of bicycles or barrows.
Our return journey was not quite so straightforward. We missed the lake altogether! However we were soon back on track and back at the Hutong condensing our luggage into our bags. Already no small feat although not one item has been added.
There had been a discussion about how we were going to get ourselves to the hotel as the Hutong alleyway did not accommodate cars and the hotel is about two kilometres away. A taxi was definitely not an option! As our bags do not have wheels as they would be dangerous when getting them on and off the truck, the combination of weight, distance and heat was not an attractive proposition in terms of carrying them! Our hosts came up with the solution of their goods trolley. Hmmm . Pride and falls come to mind……
So we took off with our trolley which to add to the drama only had three wheels! It was a long trip – or it seemed that way! After we got out of the maze of hutongs we were onto the open and very busy road, vying with cycle powered rickshaws, motorised tourist rickshaws (rather like those used in the film Oklahoma but without the horse!) and of course cars! Great.
Anyway, we got there and were both privately relieved to find that the only thing to welcome our rather ignominious appearance was the truck (it is official – it is a truck!) which was parked neatly on the hotel forecourt with a similar monster next to it, the property of Dragoman Tours. Keith checked in and I sat outside guarding our loaned trolley – you never know who might want to steal a three wheeled trolley in down town Beijing on a Monday lunchtime!
We then had the walk back with said vehicle to return it to the Hutong. By now it was 12.30 and the heat and humidity were at their height. By the time we had returned and set out again for the Hotel I was ready to do murders for a beer…..! In the absence of said beer I just got very snarly.
Things calmed down in the afternoon and having come across none of our soon to be compatriots we dined alone in a very brightly lit and noisy Chinese cafe.