Snacking on seahorses and scorpions in Beijing.
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 41 of 251 › view all entries
April 25th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
Steve, Lisa, and I hung out in our cabin, breakfasting on cakes and cookies until the train landed in Beijing's West Station at 7:30. I think that about a million people poured out of that train...right into the taxi line. Our Chinese roommate had warned us about a long taxi line. He really stressed it, and now we know why. The line of people waiting for taxis was at least two city blocks long -- and we couldn't even see the other end.
There was no way we were going to wait in that line, so we decided to walk out to the street and take our chances there. Wow, chaos! Cars, taxis, buses, people ... it was like O'Hare Airport during the holidays, multiplied by 5, but with no rules (or sidewalks). There were taxis letting people off, but they would not accept passengers. Considering the long line of people inside, I would say that is a good rule. So we walked east, and there we found the renegade drivers who would take fares "off the meter" for an exorbitant sum. Well not really exorbitant, but pretty expensive by Beijing standards. I am all in favor of capitalism, but for some reason this really bothered me in principle. All those people in line...
So we walked on, and on. And on. It was a nice day (although the pollution is starting to settle in again) and the walking wasn't bad, though having slept two nights in the same clothes we were all longing for a shower.
I had so much writing to do (hi!) I opted to stay in to work while Lisa went down to the Temple of Heaven (Steve and I had gone there already). When Lisa came back at 4:00, I was still working away, and Steve was on Hour Three of a nap!
I really needed to get out of the apartment and see something more of Beijing (kind of sad to miss out on a travel day because I am sitting inside writing about my travels), so we decided to try Wangfujing snack street, where weird foods are sold, once again. Last time we went they were closed up. So we took a cab to the fancy shopping district of Wangfujing, then quickly found the side street with the weird foods.
The first thing we saw was seahorses on a stick. Little baby-looking ones. I am a scuba diver, and let me tell you, a seahorse sighting is pretty exciting -- in 11 years of diving I have probably seen only 10 seahorses. Under water, they are treasured little creatures. On Wangfujing street, they are snacks!
Steve and Lisa were both determined to "eat some weird stuff" so of course Steve ordered up a cute baby seahorse right off the bat. He chomped it down (see video!) and said it was really good, and proclaimed he would certainly like to have a whole bowl of the tasty little guys. Seahorses: the perfect TV-watching snack food. (Well, I can tell you our refrigerator will not contain snack bags of seahorse anytime soon. No.)
From there, it was just a small step to eating scorpions, I guess.
At this point Lisa was ready to get into the action, and I lost track of the skewers being purchased and consumed. Lisa had scorpions, Steve had squid (I thought they were chicken feet at first and nearly lost it), and I even got crazy and ordered something exotic too...a coconut! I'm so wacky!
Dessert for Lisa and Steve were some grasshoppers that looked very leggy and awful to me. ("Tastes like grass!" they said.) There is nothing that could have compelled me to put one of those things in my mouth... just one of many, many reasons you will never see me on Fear Factor!
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