Touring Beijing

Trip Start Mar 13, 2011
Trip End Mar 25, 2011

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Today was a busy day of walking. As I sit at 8:00 pm, my pedometer suggests that I walked 19,988 steps today. But we had two big meals, so it all evens out.

We visited Tiananmen Square first, the world's largest public square and politically similar to our Mall in Washington, DC. Lots of red flags and banners. It was very windy all morning, so the flags were out straight. I informed Michael our currier that the Chinese security person's Segway was invented in Manchester. He was surprised. (Michael is from Shanghai and is the younger dark haired local in some of the photos. Very humorous and free with knowledge. Howard, our Beijing city guide, is the other older gentleman.) Howard explained how important it would be to stay as a group for security. He said to stick together like sticky rice. So Sticky Rice meant not to venture to far away from him because of the large crowds and numerous other tours with guides sporting their own flag on a stick.

After the square was the Imperial Palace. Very ornate and old. Places for both the Emperor's wives and his concubines, so they must have got along. High walls and thick doors to withstand attacks. The threshold that we kept tripping over is a Feng Shui thing to keep the bad luck out.

On the way to the Summer Palace we slowed up while passing the Bird's Nest and Water Cube from the 2008 Olympic Stadium. Then again, wherever we go, it's slow. Good thing too, because there are people everywhere. The streets are actually laid out pretty nicely with the main thoroughfare up the center and a local street between it and the buildings. But they have to have fences everywhere to keep the people from jaywalking. I saw a young boy, perhaps 10 years old, standing on the dotted line between the right lane and the center lane selling newspapers. The bus brushed past him within a foot or two at about 20 mph. Still photos do not do it justice. But one thing that is missing for a city this size is sirens. Recall Boston or New York when there seems to be a siren blaring much of the time? Not a peep here so far.

Dinner tonight was at the largest restaurant in China for Peking duck. THE place to be. It was delicious. Again, lots of choices brought in bowl after bowl, shared family style. I understand from our leader's survey this evening that the girl's table did the best job of finishing most of their food.

We learned that the public toilets have star ratings from 1 to 5 depending on how much 'facility' it has among other factors. One adult captured the sign showing the rating. I captured the facility itself. Gets you back to basics.

The streets are very clean. Everywhere you see workers picking trash, sweeping or raking. The average age must be close to 60. I'm not sure where the young kids are.

This hotel is very swanky. Doorman at elevator to push the button for us. About 10 bell men, doormen and desk staff eager to help us wandering souls. I understand that we should not expect this at our later hotels.

Building architecture around the city is quite eclectic. Rounded, tilting, odd geometric shapes, holes through some buildings. Each trying to out do the last.

Check out the photos later today on snapfish, password proctor. Photos we have. Unfortunately captions we do not have. You can have it good, or fast, but not both. Better wait for the movie.

Tomorrow we will be late getting back from the first choir concert. We will have that to share as well as our AM visit to the hutong (old Lane), the older portions of the city handed down in families from generation to generation. Narrow streets in a rickshaw. Yeehaw! I can catch you up on that during our siesta before rehearsal, dinner and the show.
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