The hotel is nice – nice enough.
What’s most striking to you (me specifically) right away is that NO ONE speaks English. Usually there is at least one person available that speaks a word or two, but literally here no one knows what you are talking about, starting with the hotel attendants. Everything smells profoundly of cigarette smoke, which you soon assume is a habit one picks up to mask the smell of the city- human waste and rancid meat.
We dropped our bags at the hotel and headed out to find a bite to eat. Not much is open immediately around the hotel we are at – so we headed out into the Hutong- alleyways preserved from the times the Forbidden City existed. The Hutong is essentially the alleyways reminiscent of a ghetto – of India, or even NYC. There is garbage lining the street, not in cans, but just loose. I’m assuming someone comes and picks it up the next day… but until then it’s there for you to smell.
We find a noodle shop open, with various pig parts strewn across some tables. The food is great, and we have a great time. Delicious tofu in black bean sauce, vegetable and lo mein, and some wonderful beer and green tea. We grab some wine and head back to the hotel to head in for the night.