China has never really been on my list of countries that I’ve been dying to visit. Obviously there’s lots to see, do and experience but I’ve always worried about vegan food options, language barriers and finding someone to go with. So, when my brother (who has lived out there for years) told me that he was planning to leave for good within a few months and move to Berlin (OHMYGODYES!) I had a sudden impulse to visit. When I came across a £500 flight just a month away I booked it without really thinking. It took the last of my savings but bloody hell it was a really good decision.
I spent just 7 days in Beijing and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I’m going to do my write ups similarly to how I’ve always done them (one day at a time) but obviously China is very different to the few European countries I’ve visited, so I plan to finish up my round ups with some tips on how to eat vegan in Beijing, flying and a few language tips that will help you out.
But, first things first, what did I get up to?
Well, to be honest I didn’t do a huge amount on my first day because I was ridiculously tired by the time I got there at 6am on a Sunday morning. I’d not slept on the 14 hour journey and the night before setting off I was so riddled with anxiety that I barely slept then either. My brother was nice enough to pick me up from the airport and I spent the morning catching up with him and his lovely girlfriend at their apartment in the Liu Fang area.
At around lunchtime we headed out to get some food. I was taken to Ramo Restaurant & Bar at Fangjia Hutong near the Lama Temple area.
This was a favourite place of their’s and I was in no state to search out an all vegan place. Luckily for me, there were vegan options labelled on the menu. Hurrah! I was feeling a bit jetlaggy so I just went for 2 slices of the vegan pizza with a side order of chips – not traditional Chinese food I know..whatever, judge all you want.
Sadly there is no vegan cheese on the pizza but it was still pretty tasty. The atmosphere of the place was good too, really nice and chilled out, the staff speak a little English and the menu provided was in English too, so you only need to point at what you want. I can’t remember exactly what I paid, but it was fairly good value for Western food, if you go elsewhere for traditional Chinese fare then you can get a REALLY good deal. It’s also good that you can order by the slice.
I was hoping that lunch would wake me up a bit but I could barely eat because I was so tired. I know everyone tells you not to sleep until night time but I couldn’t take it anymore, I was exhausted. We headed back to Liu Fang for an organised ‘mini sleep’. Screw everyone’s advice.
I ended up waking up in a weird confused state. I’d only slept 2 hours but thought I’d slept through until the next morning and panicked. I mumbled a load of jibberish to Daria (sorry!) until she had to explain that it was still Sunday. Apart from the confusion, having a sleep was a great idea, I felt so much better.
We arrived to the sound of a speaker calling out numbers in Mandarin outside of a massive, brightly lit building. The place is covered in lights, lanterns dangle from the roof and there are fancy statues outside too.
I’d never seen anything like it.When you arrive, don’t go straight in, you’ll need to collect a ticket and wait for your table to be called. I was lucky to have Sam and Daria with me because I couldn’t understand what was being called out at all, but I’m sure if you stand with your ticket opposite the person collecting them outside they’ll figure you’re lost and let you know when your table is ready. Just allow yourself to be ushered in, you’ll get seated eventually.
The food was amazing, the minced onion, spinach tofu thing was my favourite and the szechuan tofu was awesome. I didn’t eat many of my buns because they were so filling but I was relieved that I had some nice vegan food that could travel with me the next day while I was out and about alone. I think I paid something like 80 yuan for all that (£8), it’s dirt cheap and definitely enough for leftovers the next day or two.