Also, and I know this sounds a bit odd, but (even if a safe city like Beijing), I sometimes feel safer wearing parts of medieval armour, sometimes just the greaves or breastplate. It just makes me feel less vulnerable in an uncertain world.
Often, these are hard to clean - especially the suede material of the cowboy outfit. Imagine, then, my delight when I found the following on my hotel laundry list:
Unable to avoid the attentions of my previously-described snoring Israeli roommate, I ended up going to see some temples with him. Thankfully, because I had to make some 'phonecalls to arrange to meet some friends here, I eventually had the opportunity to part ways, and he disappeared off in the direction of Tian'anmen Square. This left me outside the Kong Miao (Confucian "Cathedral" temple of sorts) with my freedom regained. Walking up a narrow hutong [traditional old alleyway], I came across a sign on a dark, nondescript building that simply read "Tea Ceremony". Wary of tourist traps, I tentatively entered.
The result was a fairly genuine gongfucha experience, with a sincere and unassumingly gentle staff of girls in qipao operating the teapots. I slowly worked my way through some tieguanyun (fairly decent) and some surprisingly decent old shengpu, while I wrote my diary. Just out of shot to the right was a bookcase whose contents look just like one we have at home, even down to the Lin Yutang. I know Lei would love this place, it's hard to enjoy it without her.
They had weiqi ["Go"] sets in heavy marble to play with, and (I'm sorry about this) I did manage to score some kudos by placing the classical "guqin" music playing as being that from Guangling (I cheated, because it's a CD Lei and I listen to at home a lot). I was mentally high-fiving myself at this point.
Little else in tea-related news to report, except thanks to MarshalN for the surprising 'phonecall while I was in a taxi to some touristy bar area by a lake! I bet you didn't know that MarshalN's accent is thick Irish. It's like talking to the leprachaun from the "Lucky Charms" adverts.*
Today: a bit more Maliandao.
P.s. Israeli roommate ditched for a silent Chinese PhD student. Even better, when I came in last night, even he had packed all his stuff and moved out, leaving me blessedly alone!
*Actual facts may deviate from description provided.