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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Travelling with allergies part 3: A much needed taste of home

"Hello again!

After I last wrote, me and Ollie finished our stay in a hotel in Beijing, with our own room, bathroom and television giving us the chance to unpack and wash clothes before moving to a hostel with shared dorms and bathrooms. This gave us the opportunity to meet and share stories with other backpackers which we both loved!

This city is incredible, it never stops and even when getting up at 5am to catch a train to the great wall of China the metro is full of people!

Ollie with the pomelo, whatever is it!
With fruit stalls being readily available on every street and bananas costing between 5 - 10p, each picking up a couple for breakfast is an easy and cheap option. We were adventurous one morning and purchased what we thought was a giant grapefruit but turned out to be a pomelo...while being entertaining to peal, it lacked juiciness and flavour but I can say its the first time I've ever been 'full' from a fruit!

Lunchtimes we have tended to miss as we often just too busy and so have earlier dinners. With dinner portions so large and low priced its worth waiting for. I've had another rice noodle and duck dish which was delicious and entertaining too as I'm still 'learning' how to use chopsticks....

One evening I ordered rice and pork ribs which turned out to be very filling but enjoyable. However, I used my allergy cards as usual here and received a few 'confused' looks from the waitress. She went away and came back with another staff member who seemed like to understand what I was asking. The initial reaction when presenting the cards here was interesting, I get the impression allergies are rare here but they got the message in the end. 

Me on the Great Wall
When we visited the Great Wall, I couldn't resit trying steamed sweet corn. It's everywhere in Beijing and looks great. I could clearly see that the sweet corn was on racks with boiling water below so knew it would be safe to eat. I'm still not convinced it was sweet corn but it was definitely worth walking 10km on the wall to try it!

I spent Monday afternoon walking around the Hutong's which are small back streets with stalls and super markets. I browsed 3 or 4 supermarkets all of which small in size just looking for products with English ingredients. It was a challenge but I found marshmallows with English ingredients and some crackers but was also surprised when a packet of clear sweets had English ingredients and said peanut in the ingredients. Drinks brands are safe, 500ml bottle of sprite just 30p - a great taste of home and a much needed sugar kick at times. 

In our remaining days in Beijing we visited loads of local attractions, with the Forbidden city and Tiananmen square being my personal highlights. We have both begun to miss home so last night couldn't resist a trip to 'Shakers' - a western pizza and chips restaurant! Using my allergy cards I checked the ingredients with the waiter before we enjoyed a very fulfilling dinner of pizza and chips. We both left with smiles on our faces as I realised how much good 'home food' really does mean to me.

I have failed in my attempt to find chocolate, something I find hard to believe! The odd supermarket here sells snickers which contains nuts so I can't have those. Although there is a supermarket on every street, they are all small and the products are not your usual food produce. My mission to find some milk chocolate continues..I'll keep you posted!

We packed our big rucksacks on the last night here before setting our alarms for a 5:30am start to catch the bullet train. In less that five hours we will arrive in Xi'an as the train travels over 180mph.

We plan to visit the Terracotta Warriors, the Three Gorges Dam and more while we spend a week in Xi'an...Let the adventure continue!

Stephen :)"

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