Day 15 - 19/10/09 - Beijing (China)
Today was a 9am start with our tour guide, Michelle. Our first stop was to be Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square was quite large and had decorations and huge TVs around as there had just been a large celebration held there at the beginning of October.
The Forbidden City just kept going and going and going. Every time we thought we had reached the end, there was more to come. This is understandable when you learn it is the world's largest palace complex and has 9,999 rooms.
Next we were off to enjoy a Hutong tour on Rickshaws. For this tour, we had an English guide who referred to himslef as Potato. We visited a family who opened there house to visitors a few years ago, and for homestay accommodation during the Olympics. It was amazing to see such a different lifestyle and the type of house they lived in. While we were there, they were in the process of removing the stump of a 50yr old tree that had blown over in the wind yesterday.
By the time we finished this tour, it was time for lunch, and then off to a Silk factory to learn about how they make silk and participate (attempt) in making a quilt. We were then on our way to the Temple of Heaven - this is where Emperors had annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest, and is 4 times bigger than the Forbidden City (but a lot is trees/park area).
We then went into a Teahouse for a Tea Ceremony, where we got to sample 5 teas. Michelle had heard us talking of wanting a massage, so called her contacts and arranged for a 90min massage for us all. This proved to be very interesting as they did not speak much English.
Day 16 - 20/10/09 - Beijing (China)
Michelle greeted us at 10am this morning for our days activities. First up was a visit to the Summer Palace, which includes Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake. Both of these were man made, and the Summer Palace was used in Summer by the Emperors - it was cooler in the Summer Palace due to the hill and the lake.
Lunch was next door to a Pearl factory, so we wandered in there for a look and were given a guided tour on how pearls are made and how to tell the real pearls from fake ones.
It was then off to a market, where we all tried our hands at bargaining for various items, and succeed quite well with some. Jess had a lady yelling at her across the room after she walked away when the lady would not agree to her price... we think she was going to accept the offer of 50yuan (the original price was 330) but did not go back to see.
After the market, we were on our way to see an acrobatic show, when the driver pulled over near the Olympic site for us to take photos. When he went to pull back onto the road, we collided with the rear of another van pulling over. After the way everyone drives, we're suprised it took this long to see a crash, but were glad it was only a dint and scratch.
The Flying Acrobatic Show was made up of performers from the area which was destroyed by an earthquake not too long ago. This was a great show and involved trained exotic birds which would fly around the theatre over you.
Tomorrow we visit the Great Wall (Yay!) and Ming Tombs.
Take care - Jess & Scotty