I declared in my previous post that I was off to find adventure in the far outskirts of Beijing. I went, I saw, and I realized that I would take more than one trip and quite a bit of time to write a story of that magnitude. It will happen, there is far too much happening out there to be ignored. I’m hoping to have it all put together by next weekend. In the meantime- Crap Internet Again, I think they should hunt down the guy who claimed he fixed the wifi, cause he’s full of it.
I went out to the Wangfujing night market a few days back while I was headed around the city. I have been to a portion of the night market in the past, but this section proved to have a very different selection of things to eat, and ultimately seemed to be a much better choice if you are looking for something other than insects. It also looked a whole lot cleaner, which must count for something.
The night market is a huge attraction in Beijing, for foreign and domestic tourists alike. Every evening, crowds in the hundred gather along the side of the road to view and sample a strange variety of cuisine, ranging from octopus to insects and bubbling, smoking drinks. Although I have little interest in eating the vast majority of things that are offered at the night market, I have found it a great place to go and watch other people on a night out. It is, in many cases, a family event, and watching others is half of the draw. I would not be surprised to find that the better portion of people head to the market simply to watch others eat things for which they have no stomach.
One of the better novelties to be found comes in the form of neon colored drinks that billow steam, a mesmerizing effect created by dropping a few chunks of dry ice in the bottom. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the crowd of children that gathered in front of the stand, entranced by the potion that was standing before them. Large skewers of frozen fruit are also quite popular, and though they do not stay frozen for very long, if you come early enough you can still find a stick of fruit encased in a glassy layer of ice. Just don’t eat those strawberries!
There is something incredibly appealing about eating in the open air. It seems much more natural than sitting in the confines of a restaurant, and the atmosphere is completely different. There is a strange sense of community among the large crowd that stretches the length of the snack stands. Perhaps it is the knowledge that everyone is trying these bizarre foods, but I think it is more that everyone is out to have a good time, a collective of people enjoying the evening air and the simplicity of the event. Vendors yell out their wares, crowds gather in front of the particularly strange foods, and large clouds of steam push up through the air as you walk from one stop to the next. You might not be hungry in the least, but whether you go for the food or for the sights does not really matter, for this is an experience more than anything else.
To get to the market where these photos where taken, take the #1 subway to Wangfujing, and just ask the first vendor you see for directions to the night market. Happy snacking!