The Not-So Forbidden City - they let us in...

Trip Start Jul 10, 2006
Trip End May 31, 2007

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Flag of China  ,
Monday, August 7, 2006

The Beijing Silk market is 6 floors of ruthless bargaining. Never seen so many fakes in one place (brilliantly made Diesel, Polo, Ralph L., Columbia, North Face, everything). Rob bargained his way down from Y220 (R220) to Y50 for a "genuine" Timberland T-shirt... thought that he'd done brilliantly ... until he saw a GENIUNE Timberland T-shirt in an expensive department store for Y75. China 1 - Manty 0.

The hottest place on earth on the 7th of August 2006 HAD to be the Forbidden City, Beijing (i.e. the Last Emperor's Digs). We ended up limiting ourselves to buildings/exhibits that had aircon - fighting off the other tourists to get pole (cold) position. The buildings were beautiful, but most of the furnishings are probably in some museum in London post Britain's "liberation" of Beijing. China is in the process of trying to reclaim these artifacts - good luck!

Next stop will be Xi'an, after a too-short visit to Beijing.

A final thought on Beijing: impressive - Developing at an incredible pace. Train Stations - brand new, state of the art, English signage everywhere. Public transport fantastic. Superb hotels in operation and being built. We read in an American Chamber of Commerce Journal (uh-uh Manty) that the International Olympic Committee has asked Beijing to slow down its preparation/construction for the 2008 Olympics - so as to avoid unnecessary maintenance costs!! With a "voluntary" labour force of 250 million (willing to work for less than $2/day) there is absolutely no way Beijing is not going to be ready for 2008 - it should be spectacular!
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