Sunday, November 23, 2008

Beijing - 11/20-22

Thursday: arrived early evening and were met by our guide “Charlotte”- Du Yong is her actual Chinese name. On the bus to the hotel, Charlotte stood with microphone in hand and started teaching us all about Beijing and China. She did this whenever we were on the bus and taught us far more than we would have ever learned on our own. She accompanied us everywhere and made all our arrangements.

Friday: Enjoyed a fabulous buffet at the hotel – lots of familiar items and lots of new and interesting items. Boarded our bus at 9:00 and headed for the Olympic Green. We got to tour inside the Water Cube and take pictures of the Bird’s Nest exterior. It’s so neat that we were in the very place Michael Phelps made history. We then headed to Forbidden City – temples and enormous compound from the Ming Dynasty. This is from the 1400s! It was amazing that they were SO OLD and yet preserved so beautifully.

We had an authentic and very delicious lunch at a restaurant near Tienemin Square and then walked to the Square – the largest public square in the world and the place of Mao’s entombment. It’s surrounded by communist government buildings with imagery of Mao and red China flags and seals on proud and prominent display. While we were there we witnessed a protest begin and quickly end with swift police intervention. Very exciting for us but we could tell it made Charlotte nervous – “Stay here and don’t make any trouble for yourselves.”

While we were taking group pictures many Chinese tourists took our pictures too and some tried to get in our picture with us. It was very funny.

Our last stop was a silk factory where we saw the process from moth to worm to silk. Very interesting! We were tempted to bring home a silk duvet and cover but figured 4 kids + 3 dogs + silk = not a good idea.

The grand finale of the day was a “foot massage” at a massage center near our hotel. WOW was this great. It was 90 minute an arm/foot/leg/back massage that only cost $20. This would have been a $100 endeavor in the States, easily.

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