Dinner on Houhai Lake
April 18, 2004
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Thanks to a tip from Calum, an expat we met at
the hotel, we had a fantastic last evening
in Beijing, wandering along the shore of
Houhai lake, stopping in for a drink on the
rooftop of one of dozens of new bars popping
up there, then heading over to Kaorouji
restaurant to order some great food. At
7, our boatman paddled up
to the dock and a waiter carried our
ginger beef and cashew chicken out to
the boat. We settled in for a twilight ride,
under swooping bats, serenaded by the gentle music of
Chinese lutes and harps wafting over from
passing boats, our ride lit by dozens of tiny paper
boats each lit by a candle. We'd heard about this
boats from Calum, but we hadn't been able to bridge
the language barrier with the boatman enough to
ask about them.
As our ride neared its end, I began to
gather up the items on the boat's narrow
table. One bag appeared to contain folded
red napkins, and a collection of 20 or so small
discs, that might have been after-dinner candies.
I popped one in my mouth to sample. "Mmm...
tastes like ... wax .... it's the candles!" The
'napkins' were the paper boats, folded. We
scrambled to light a few candles with the
lighter also provided in the baggies, and got
about four off on their way before we made
it to the dock, bringing the rest home for
a celebration later this summer.
Can't think of a better way
to say good-bye to China than this timeless experience
in old Peking.