The immediate impression upon waking up Saturday was that someone had lifted the shade. Our curtains, however, were just as we had left them the night before: the gauzy white curtains drawn on the lower half, and the upper half of the windows open to the courtyard. But it was MUCH BRIGHTER than we had ever seen it in the room, and quick peak out the door verified it: the smog had lifted! Blue sky! (well…bluish, with a white haze around the bright bright sun) And a significant decrease in the humidity!
Not having had success finding street food around us in Beijing the way we did in Shanghai, we decided to have breakfast in our hotel, which was included in the room cost. It was mostly western, with one Chinese looking dish of kind-of-fried rice next to the bacon strips and frozen-food hash brown hockey pucks. You could order an omlette or scrambled eggs to order. I stuck to coffee and watermelon and a hockey puck of potatoes. Not bad, certainly “food safe” but not an adventure, either.
Then, while I caught up with my blogging, Alison went out on a walk to the nearby Drum Tower that we had walked past, but with a clear sky and no (visible) smog, she wanted to climb to the observation deck to have a look around the city.
An hour later she burst back through the door and said: I’ve FOUND IT! I’ve found the street food, and it’s just over the wall from our courtyard! They have everything — pancakes, dumplings, fruits and veggies, fried bread, soy milk, yogurt, everything! She was glowing with triumph and chagrin that we had been looking in ALL the wrong places: of course most of the life in these warrens took place INSIDE, not out on the noisy dirty crowded thoroughfares where there were sneaker stores and guitar stores cheek by jowl. Alas we had eaten breakfast already, and were promised a dumpling feast for lunch after we learned how to make the darned things. But now, at least, we knew where to go, even if we had to wait 24 hours.