Friday, June 02, 2017

Touring Beijing

Well, spare moments are hard to come by these days.  Seems like we have been on the go since we got here; which is not necessarily a bad thing, just means we haven't had any time to work on the blog.

We had three great days in Beijing.  Our guide, Helen, met us at the airport when we arrived on Thursday and helped us go to our hotel which was very close to the center of the city.  It was rush hour, so we had an hour and a half to get to know our guide.  She also married "later" and now has a 14 month old son named "Jack".  She was very friendly and very helpful - the kids wanted to know if she could be our guide for the rest of our trip as well :>)  Beijing is a city of 24 million people, and instead of one "ring" or beltway, there are 5 - Helen told us the running joke in Beijing is that there is only one rush hour:  all day, every day :>)  Atlanta traffic isn't looking so bad ...

After checking in, we walked to a noodle shop and had Mr. Li's beef soup noodles.  We were too tired to think about taking any pictures ...  We went to sleep pretty quickly after devotions and family prayer time.  Unfortunately, we woke up pretty early (around 5:30, though some of the smaller ones among us were awake looong before 5:30 ...) and had to wait until 6:30 to go down for breakfast.  We all enjoyed the breakfast; some of the favorites:  won ton soup, waffles, bacon, omelettes, bok choy and mandarin oranges.

The first day, we made our trip to the Mu Tian Yu portion of the Great Wall. The weather was perfect and we had a great time!  Because this part of the wall is way up in the mountain, we took a chair lift up to the wall.  We had a choice coming down of returning on the chair lift or "sliding" down bob-sled style.  Guess you can figure out which one the kids voted for (OK, I voted for it too :>)  The "sled" was on wheels and we were on a metal chute - and fun was had by all.  After the wall, we had lunch at a local restaurant featuring local food.  We enjoyed sizzling beef, sweet & sour chicken, shredded potatoes, savory pancakes (not sweet) and spicy green beans (Andrew loved the spicy beans and Hannah loved the sweet and sour chicken).

We were really tired by the time we bog back, so instead of investing energy in trying to decide what to have for dinner, we just went back to have Mr. Li's beef noodles again (they really are quite yummy).

Our second day we slept a little later, but still didn't have to worry abut missing the early breakfast hour. After breakfast, Helen arrived and took us to Tienanmen square.  It was not as "open" as I remember it from 2005.  Security is very tight and everyone must pass through security before entering the square.  It is a little sad to see the square filled with tour groups instead of children running, playing and flying kites (which is how I remember it).

It turned out to be a really hot day (99, I think) - even in the morning (when this picture was taken), you could see the haze in the air.  From the square, we walked across the street to the Forbidden City (which is now called the Forbidden Palace Museum).

We enjoyed the tour (OK, some of us more than others); it is much larger than you might imagine ...  After the tour, Helen took us to a local restaurant where we feasted on more local dishes including the most famous of all, Peking Duck; it was quite yummy ...  After lunch we went looking for a cell phone repair shop in a vain attempt to revive my cell phone (a manufacturers defect has rendered it totally incapacitated :>(  It seems the defect is so bad that China has banned the sales of LG phones throughout the entire country - wouldn't you know it ...  Oh well ...

After the failed cell phone revival, we traveled to the HuTongs or old section of town; we are talking hundreds of years here ...  The homes are very close together and the streets are very narrow, so we toured in rickshaw's.  It was a lot of fun, and a welcome rest after all the walking in the Forbidden City.  We were given golden Chinese knots and instructed to wear them - I decided to attach mine to the button on my shirt; quite a fashion statement, don't you think?  Below we are standing in front of a "4-Beam" home of a military officer.  As you might guess, the number of beams was equated with status, and a 4-Beam home was at the top of the list.  Below that is the courtyard of a typical home; this one was 250 years old.  Finally, our guide in the HuTongs.

After a full and tiring day, we managed to find a McDonald's for dinner - it was quick and easy, and we did have a pretty good lunch ...

Our last full day in Beijing we went shopping, then out for lunch, then to an Acrobat show.  Below is a picture we took with Helen outside the shopping center:

As I mentioned at the beginning, we had a great time in Beijing - and Helen, our guide was fantastic.  It's getting late, so I will stop there and pick-up with Shanghai ...  Good night ...

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