Day 24 - After the cruise - land touring

Trip Start Feb 04, 2012
Trip End Mar 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Beijing Dong Fang Hotel
Read my review - 4/5 stars

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

We were done with the cruise at this point but opted to stay in Beijing a few extra days and visit sites on our own.  Planning our own day takes more time than being part of a tour, where one is "taken care of" from start to finish, but it was good for us to just get out and explore.  It increases the level of adventure!  Taxis are rather inexpensive in Beijing, so we did use that mode of transport quite often. 

The city of Peking (Beijing in Chinese) was founded more than 3300 years ago as a frontier garrison to defend against northern barbarisn.  It has served as China's cultural, political and administrative capital for more than 700 years.  Since the founding of the People's Republic, Peking has experienced dramatic changes.  Many of the ancient sites may still be visited, but much of the city wall has been removed to make way for roads.  During the Qing Dynasty, no building in the city was allowed to be higher than the walls of the Forbidden City (we will visit tomorrow on our last day in Beijing).  Now, of course, there are many, many high rise, deluxe western-style hotels, many that were built for the Beijing Olympics four years ago. 

Our first full day in Beijing on our own found us doing a bit of wandering off our devised touring plan but the detours brought us to unplanned, amazing sites.  From our hotel we took a cab to the Railway Station, which is across from Tian anmen Sqaure and all that is located there.  From there we maneuvered through under-the-road tunnels to the other side of the station and began walking.  This day is much better reviewed through the pictures I took, because words do little to describe the incredible temples and gates and street-walking scenes, people watching, and observation of customs and the many vending shops.  So the Beijing experience will be more of a photo journal than a descriptive writing entry.  The pictures tell so much more. 

At many of the stops this day I took photos of historical information to include with the pictures.  They serve to remind us of the events of the past at the various sites.  

Just a note on the evening:  we attended the Beijing Acrobat performance with our friends, Earl and Carole.  I think my pictures are pretty descriptive but they don't really begin to tell how thrilling this performance was.  After the show, our guide engaged one of the  young performers in conversation.  He asked her how old she was, because legally children can't work until they are 16.  Her response was, "Sixteen".  "Really?" he said.  "Almost sixteen", she responded shyly.  He figured she was probably about 13 or less.  During halftime and after the show, the performers were selling trinkets to the milling crowds.  The acrobats work hard.  Acrobatics is one of the top areas of training for young people.  Parents push their children to excel in some sport, and acrobatics is high on the list.  If the child does well, the parents believe the children will make good money.

After the show we went with Carole and Earl's tour group for dinner at a small, crowded restaurant.  Good food but so much of it, and a few wierd things thrown in that my stomach really didn't want that night! 

So on to the pictures of Beijing on February 28, 2012 - a crisp wintery day in China!

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