WELL, I've a new resolution. I'm never interrupting my drinking with eating ever again. Anyone who's been to Beijing will be able to imagine why.
The street food on offer is fantastic. But mixed in with all the mainstream offerings of noodles, fruit, fresh seafood and assorted meats there are a few challenging dishes...
The culinary delights/dares include dog, cat, snake, scorpion, spider, centipede, locust, silk worm chrysalis, donkey, starfish, diving beetle, assorted pupa, sea horses, urchins and all sorts of other bugs and beasts that we would not normally try under any circumstances. Except possibly as a forfeit after a few beers....
Most of the bugs taste the same as each other. Hot, crispy, salty. Almost got me wishing for a big glass of Mongolian fermented mares' milk to wash it all down with.
Beijing is one heck of a city. I'm writing this in a Tin Tin themed bar - Le Lotus Blue - right on the edge of a lake - whilst some Zambians play Reggae music - some of it in Mandarin, some in English. All very random.
Ticked another dead communist off the list - I can confirm Mao is still dead, and not going anywhere fast. I managed to resist buying playing cards/mugs/assorted tacky trinkets with his handsome features plastered on it.
The Forbidden City and Summer Palace are fantastic - and the big wall they have here is great. They have a marathon along it - must come back for that one year!
Interesting that free market Mongolia has no Starbucks, McDonalds etc but communist China has the full spread - heck, even Hooters have made it here.
On this trip I've indulged myself in visiting stadia - National stadiums in Tallin, Moscow and Beijing, Olympic venues in London, Helsinki, Moscow and Beijing.
The Birds Nest blows all the others away. It's a fantastic piece of architecture - never saw any sport there I'm afraid - it's concert season it seems - but yeah, mighty impressive.
I've topped it off with a trip to the zoo to see the pandas, and I'm fair charmed by them. Hopefully come the next general election there will be more Tory MPs in Scotland than there are pandas in Beijing Zoo, never mind Edinburgh!!!