So it seems Corona Virus is much more serious than a case of mucho cerveza Mexicana y limón, and in fact quite contagious. With hindsight not a great time to travel around China, but a travel I did do.
I’d been to Beihai a few years ago on a covert solo mission, and had really enjoyed it. 2020, i was to spend Chinese New Year in Beihai.
The skinny on Beihai is thus. It’s on the southern coast of Guangxi province in China (of Yangshuo fame), and from 1876 had 8 western powers here running the show, the UK, US, France Italy, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, and remember Austro-Hungary? Them cats too. All of whom left a very interesting imprint on the city. The swinging days of colonialism lasted until the pesky reds took over, but there are still 15 colonial era buildings in the old town, which is the main tourist draw to Beihai. And last fun fact? It’s the fastest growing city in the world.
I was to spend my first night of culinary adventure in the aforementioned old town, and my god was it a treat.
If you know anything about Yangshuo or Guilin you will know that despite both being beautiful, tourism has polluted the locals so much that they are now rather horrible places to visit. Beihai old town had all the razzmatazz of West Street without the crowds, and by definition the bullshit. I’m sure Beihai will eventually fall to the dark side, but for now it’s still pretty special (still not a lao wai to be seen).
The street is still very touristy, but let’s not be snobs, touristy doesn’t have to be synonymous with bad, and the street is full of all manner of weird fruits, juices, meats, too many fake pearls, and seafood. And this is what you want to be getting involved with.
We ended up with shrimp, and clams, but done Chinese style, Clams are served with glass noodles in the shell with garlic and spices, which taste amazing, and the shrimp? Rip off the head, dip it in soy mixed with wasabi, and eat whole, shell and tail included. Before i came to China the thought of this would have disgusted me, but heck i’ve gone full native now!
It was also a street food drinks heaven, and i had sugarcane juice, which apparently had been featured on CCTV 4 for about 60 cents. fresh coconut for about a buck and a half, and a dragon fruit mix for about the same.
Beihai old town also has a few Chinese style bars, which although they have a distinct lack of any kind of bar atmosphere, have a good beer selection, and don’t have the audacity to charge you 8 dollars for a Tsingtao.
Would i recommend Beihai Old Town? And indeed Beihai itself? Personally yes, but i’ll also not be shouting it from the rooftops. The longer Beihai stays special the better.
Happy year of the rat (almost)……