A taste of this and a taste of that
Chengde Travel Blog› entry 3 of 10 › view all entries
A brutal alarm wakes us up at the beastly hour of 4:15. With some moaning and grumbling my husband Rens gets up while I’m still incapable of opening my eyes. Who’s idea was it to take the 6:30 train?!
Two hours later we’re at the central train station of
Our train tickets state our compartment and seat number and at 6:20 we can enter the train to find our seats and put away our backpacks.
The trip takes about 4 hours and from our window we can see a predominately green and lushes landscape. To my surprise (and enormous enthusiasm) we even see a part of the Great Wall!
During our journey several ladies who appear to be some sort of ‘train employees’ come by, to see if we want to buy some magazines or food. The magazines are not that interesting since it’s all in Chinese, but the food definitely has our fascination. All items appear to be some sort of snack and we’ve never seen anything like it before. The ladies take a seat and my husband and I take our time to taste the strange-looking food.
We quickly check-in at the Mountain Villa Hotel and then go out to find a place for lunch. We still have some funny tastes in our mouth and I can’t wait to get a decent meal in order to wash away the weird stuff we’ve eaten on the train…
We end up in a small restaurant that doesn’t appear to have a name. It’s crowded, but that doesn’t stop the owner from dragging us in anyway. Even though all tables are taken, he gently pushes us into small room where there is one more round table. We’re quite impressed by all the new smells, sounds and curious faces, so it takes a while for us to realize that we’re sitting right next to a bed.
The owners wife appears to take our order, with a few gestures we find out there is no menu. Luckily I have a small card with Chinese characters that say I’m a vegetarian. This card is understood with a nod. She then looks at my husband, who starts making animal noises to explain he doesn’t mind eating meat. As soon as the meat and no-meat statuses are established, the woman disappears behind a door and within a few seconds she returns with a basket of food. She shows us cabbage and we nod. We like cabbage, but not too much. She holds up carrots and again we nod. Carrots are nice. And we love mushrooms, and eggplant.
After lunch, we walk back to our hotel since the main entrance of the Mountain Resort is across from there. The Mountain Resort is a vast imperial garden and villa, constructed in the 18th century. The villa has a similar lay-out as The Forbidden City, but it’s a lot smaller. De different buildings also look a bit more ‘basic’ since most of the wood in the building still has its natural colour. The emperors of the Qing-dynasty often spend several months a year here to escape the summer heat in
The resort consists of two main parts: the front and the rear.
There is still a lot of furniture left, and most rooms look as if they were lived in a couple of months ago. I like the addition of wax figurines who represent the emperors in their traditional clothing. It gives the whole place a bit of a personal touch.
We also make a ride in a very touristy-looking van that drives us around the vast gardens. It’s not that interesting to see trees and deer, but there are a few stops at nice pavilions that overlook the many temples in the area. They look beautiful, even though we are at a distance, but they’ll have to wait till tomorrow.