Saturday, August 4, 2012

Whirlwind Tour of Beijing

For our last full day in China, it was a very full day :).  We started by going to Tiananmen Square.  I know I'm dating myself, but I vividly remember the protests that happened there when I was about 18 years old.  It was an interesting experience to stand there all these years later with the place filled with tourists taking pictures.
Literally right across the street from Tiananmen Square is the Forbidden City.  This is where the Chinese emperor and other royalty lived.  Common folks were not allowed in - hence the name.  The city was built in the 1400s and according to our guide it took 14 years to finish constructing it.
After that, we went to lunch at a restaurant located in jade factory (um, yeah it sure was).  Honestly, it was probably the most bland meal we've had since we've been in China (and that includes the food on the airplanes - which incidently isn't bad on the Chinese airlines we've flown).  We also had a short educational tour about how to tell the difference between real jade and fake jade and also the differences in jade quality.  Very interesting (to me anyway).
After the jade factory, we went to the Great Wall.  Where we accessed the wall, you could go left - which was relatively flat, or right - which was an almost a vertical climb (imagine a slightly inclined ladder).  Holy cow some of those stairs are steep - definitely doesn't meet current building code for risers (or treads) either - sorry, I've worked in engineering my whole professional career, these things occur to me.  Guess which way our group decided to go...
At 4:30 PM we left the Great Wall and drove by the 2008 Beijing Olympic Village.  We saw the 'bird nest' and the 'water cube'.  Very cool architecture.
We're getting ready to head out for dinner tonight and we leave for the airport tomorrow at 1:00 PM.  We'll see you at home :).

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