Thursday, January 20, 2011


March 17, 2007 BEIJING

Woke early and headed for breakfast; we are enjoying large western style breakfasts every day before we start the daily tours; not a chopstick in sight! We then met with our Tour Director Jo (who will be with us for the next three weeks until we leave Hong Kong) in the conference room for our orientation, language and money tips and general briefing. The first statement was about the importance of being on time, and even five minutes early, when leaving for tours. Jim was one of two that were about fifteen minutes late for this meeting. I’d gone down early and arrived on time for the meeting.

Our hotel is walking distance to our first stop today: The Forbidden City. But, that gate is closed and we have to go to a special gate to enter; so we’re on the bus and enjoying our first day of sunshine in China!

The Forbidden City was very interesting. Both Jo and our City Guide Maggie will be with us during our stay in Beijing. Maggie was actually born in Beijing and is very knowledgeable about the city and younger than Jo by a few years. We walked through courtyard after courtyard and looked inside many of the buildings. The guides were great about imparting historical information as we wandered through the vast royal complex of buildings surrounded by huge courtyards. Our bus met us at the end of our tour of the main section containing the buildings. This area was surrounded by a wide moat for security but not the gardens that continued on for blocks.

From there we headed to Tiananmen Square. At 100 acres it is the largest public square in the world. I never found the numbered squares (supposedly used to line up the troups for military parades) but we did walk most of the area. Chairman Mao’s tomb is being remodeled for the upcoming 2008 Olympics and we only had an opportunity to view it from the outside. The square was full of strolling people, some flying kites that you could purchase from the vendors. We also took time to have a group photo taken in front of the Gate of Heavenly Peace (the official viewing stand for parades). The Chinese people were very friendly and loved to pose with us for photos. Many enjoyed practicing their English by speaking with us. We’re known as the “big noses” to the Chinese.

After an hour we boarded our bus and drove past the “countdown clock” for the 2008 Olympics. It reminded me of the one that we saw in 1999 on the Eiffel Tower in Paris that was counting down to the Millennium Celebration for 2000.

Stopped at a local Chinese restaurant near our hotel for lunch before going back to the hotel where we had a couple of hours to rest and use our free internet before boarding the bus for another ride back to the Forbidden City gate and a Chinese Restaurant located next to the gate for dinner. Seems like all we do is eat! There we enjoyed another Chinese dinner of multiple dishes highlighted by Peking Duck. The chef carved the duck into thin slivers of meat at the table and then it was dipped in sauce along with slivers of cucumbers and spring onions and then rolled in a paper thin shell (much like a taco shell). As with all of our Chinese meals we enjoyed or at least some of us enjoyed using our chopsticks! Back to the hotel and another end to an informative and fun day of exploration. Most of us had forgotten that today was St. Patrick’s Day…some worn green but most of us forgot!

1 comment:

Mary said...

You are so lucky to have enjoyed so much of the world. How great it is that you take the time to share it will all of us. I love the picture of you & Jim in the Forbidden City.