My last night in Beijing was marked by memories of tranquility, exploration, great food, and friendly people. After days of climbing walls and exploring palaces, I was left with one night to finish souvenir shopping and take in as much of China before my departure. I decided to spend the day alone for the most part, avoiding staying in and eating Western food with fellow travelers. It was a fantastic day from sunrise to sundown.
After having a good cup of coffee, I ventured over to the 798 art district with the resident director of my program. I spent hours in the company of peaceful but colorful streets and inspring art. I returned and relaxed in my hotel room before heading out to find dinner. I headed over to a little home-style Chinese food restaurant adjacent to the hotel and asked the waitress for some noodles. I’m so glad I did, because those were some of the best noodles I’ve ever had. Splendidly cooked and paired with meat sauce and thinly sliced vegetables. Perfection.
I walked down 前门路 and spent another couple hours rummaging through a variety of shops in search of worthy souvenirs. It offered me the opportunity to engage with Beijing locals and observe the city after dark. One of my last stops was at a famous tea store which my resident director had recommended earlier that day.
I walked in just to peruse, and ended up engaged in tea conversation with one of the assistants. I decided to buy some Jasmine, oolong, and black tea and my new friend offered to give me a taste test before I bought them. We sat and chatted at the tea table for a while. I told her I was ready to purchase a few items, but instead she brewed more water, bought me cookies, and asked if I would like to stay and chat with her because she really enjoyed talking to me.
I think that was the perfect end to Beijing. Basically a private tea ceremony with a friendly local, being able to actually converse in Mandarin for 40 minutes.