Saturday, September 8, 2012

2009 Beijing Trip (Part 2)

Continuation of my Beijing trip blog

Tour Day 2
On the second day with the tour group, we went to the Ming Tombs, the Badaling Great Wall, a jade store, and a silk factory.

Ming Tombs
I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with this. It was pretty much a *points somewhere* "That's where the tombs are." You can't actually go into the tomb area, so it's kind of a lackluster visit there. There is a museum, though, which has some interesting stuff.
Mr. Monkey was disappointed

So was Sherman

The Great Wall
First of all, pictures really can't do The Great Wall justice - you have to see it in person. The Great Wall started out as a bunch of little sections of walls to keep the Mongolians out until one of the emperors decided to link all of them up and make one giant wall along the northern border of China. Due to this, The Great Wall is not just one wall stretching along the border, but a looping and backtracking fortification made out of many different materials. Lots of sections of the wall have fallen into disrepair and can't be visited. Now, there are several sections that are maintained for culture and for people to visit. We visited the Badaling section.
Sherman and Mr. Monkey enjoyed the Great Wall

Tour Day 3
On the third day with the tour group, it was actually just me and my friend, so it was a cozy little tour with just us and the guide. We went to the Panda House at the Beijing Zoo, then the largest Lama Temple of Beijing - Yonghe Temple, then a Hutong Tour, then visited the Olympic green, then we had Peking duck before an an acrobat show that evening.

Beijing Zoo (Panda House)
It's pandas!!! Nuff said :).
Of course I had to buy a stuffed panda

And Mr. Monkey couldn't feel left out

This one was still for so long, I wasn't sure if it was real. It finally came down when they called for it to come inside for a bit - very slowly, though.

Olympic Park
I'm a huge fan of the Olympics, so I was super excited to go here. However, we couldn't go inside the buildings because they were being renovated for re-purposing. It was also extremely windy and very, very cold, so we didn't stay here for very long. These two structures are built along the central road in the city, so it's pretty much a straight shot for the wind to whip down.
The Bird's Nest. This was being turned into an indoor ski park.

The Water Cube. I can't remember what this was being turned into.

An exclusive hotel in the shape of a dragon located at Olympic Park

Me freezing my butt off

Hutong Tour
The Hutong Tour is a tour of the old streets of Beijing. "Hutong" means "well." They get this name because there used to be water wells at the end of streets. We got transferred to a local expert on the area and dragged around in a cart by a poor guy on a bike We were served a homemade lunch in a lady's home, too.
The poor old man that was carting us around. He was huffing and puffing, too.

In the home where we had lunch, there was a koi pond in the floor

Lama Temple - Yonghe Temple
This temple was pretty cool. This temple is for Tibetan Buddhism. It also has the largest Buddha statue carved out of a single piece of wood.
Map of the temple grounds

This represents heaven and earth
Pictures weren't allowed of the statue :(

Peking Duck Dinner and Chinese Acrobats
I forgot my camera at the hotel in the evening for the dinner and acrobat show :(. I highly recommend both of these if you're ever in Beijing. I mean, come on, the duck dish is named after the city. The Peking duck was quite good. The entire meal was good, actually. I couldn't really taste any duck - it was dipped in a sauce and wrapped in a rice paper (I think) by the servers and given to us to eat. There were several other dishes to enjoy as well - all were very good.

The acrobat show was amazing, to say the least. I really wish I had some pictures of it, but I don't :(. They tour the world though, so if you ever have the chance, you should definitely go see them live.

Tourist Traps
We went to several tourist traps with the tour group. They're probably contracted to do so and probably get paid for it. We went to a pearl shop, a jade shop, a silk factory, a tea shop, a Chinese medicine clinic, and a ceramics/studio place.

I did end up buying a few things a couple of the shops as gifts or souvenirs. I did get a bit sucked in to the tea shop and spent more there than I should have :/ Oh well. I really wanted some silk bedding stuff, but that was a bit too expensive *sniffle*.

Well, that about covers my trip to Beijing. We were supposed to leave on January 2nd, but ended up leaving a day early - the airline had changed our flight to a later time on the 2nd that we wouldn't have been able to do, so we just left a day early. It was actually a good thing since a blizzard came through on the 1st and delayed our flights by a few hours anyway, and the airports ended up shutting down on the 2nd. I'm not sure how that would've worked out with my Chinese visa since it ended on Jan. 2nd. Ah, I forgot to mention visas - if you are going to China, you need a visa. For Americans, it's about $120. At the airport, there was a guy in front of us that didn't have a visa and he was angry about it and yelling at the airline desk people - his own fault for not checking, though. At any rate, I recommend a trip to Beijing if you're able - it's a pretty amazing place.

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