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VISITING BEIJING (Page 7)
Your Beijing experience will not be complete without tasting Beijing's famous roast duck. And what better place to do this than at the Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant at Hepingmen, which was first established in 1864. Their call-card says that it is the biggest roast duck restaurant in Asia. This is not surprising seeing that the restaurant has tables on five floors and that it is capable of serving 2,000 diners at any one time. It's just at Exit C of the Hepingmen underground station. Eating here is quite an experience and you will not be ruined seeing that you can order just half a duck for 114 yuan (about 16 dollars). A waiter will bring your duck, still sizzling, in a trolley to your table and cut bite-sized pieces before you. If you are new to it he will also demonstrate how you go about eating it - by first taking a piece of the rice paper, then dipping the duck in the sauce before putting it on the rice paper, and finally putting some slices of onion on top of it before wrapping the whole thing up (as seen in the photo). The service here is really impressive. As I was pouring tea from the teapot into my tea-cup a waiter rushed to me and stopped me, saying Wo3 gei2 ni2 tao3. (I'll pour it for you). And even as you enter the toilet a uniformed attendant is there to wish you (Ni2 hao3) and waiting with a paper towel to give you as soon as you finish washing your hands. Not that I really need this type of service but then I've never been so mollycoddled in my life! (Note: It has been franchised so there will be other restaurants carrying the same name but this is the original one.)
This restaurant was mentioned in a Guardian article on the 50 best things to eat in the world (see No. 22).
The first thing to keep in mind when you are visiting the Ming Tombs is that it is not just one place but a number of different locations some kilometers apart one from the other. Most tourists are only taken to Dingling to see the tomb of Emperor Wanli and after that to the Sacred Way some kilometers away. The Chinese name for the Ming Tombs is 13 Ling (13 tombs) as 13 of the 17 Ming Emperors were buried here.
What some people call the Spirit Way and others the Sacred Way (shen2tao4 in Chinese) is actually a 1.5 km stretch of cemented path leading to the crypt grounds and lined on both sides with bigger-than-man size stone statues of court officials and animals (for each animal you will see one pair standing and another pair crouching). It is possible to come here from Dingling with a local bus (No. 314).
The Donghuamen food court along a street perpendicular to Wangfujing Street is actually a row of foodstalls selling only snacks. There are no tables so you have to eat while standing or strolling along the other stalls. If you are the adventurous type you might be so tempted by the many different types of snacks that you would probably have to skip dinner altogether.
You can easily combine your visit to the Liulichang cultural street (where we see that the art of calligraphy is still very much alive today seeing that brushes of all shapes and sizes are being sold) with a visit to the Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant which is nearby. Next page