Saturday, June 13, 2009

Beijing- Chinese New Year 2009 Trip

We started our whirlwind trip around China in Beijing. The first night we met our tour guide who promptly dropped us off at our hotel. Dad, Debi, Amii and I decided to walk around the city and find something to eat. We were able to walk past Tiananmen Square (which had mysteriously been fenced off- most likely a precaution to the upcoming 20th year anniversary of the student protests) and the entrance to the Forbidden City.

Having a travel agency arrange the trip for us, we didn't have to worry about hotels, transportation, or even where to eat. But unfortunately, we did have to worry about being forced to visit government owned "museums." The first one we bore witness to was a Jade museum. This consisted of a 5 minute presentation on how jade is mined and carved, and then being stuck in the gift shop for 2 hours while salesladies harassed us into buying a jade bracelet.

At least, according to them, since it was a government owned shop, the quality would be the highest, and the price would be the lowest in all of China.

I don't see why they would lie.

Also along with a guide, and other stops at government owned gift shops, we were able to see the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace.

The Ming tomb was a short stop, as our guide wouldn't let us stop long to take pictures. We had a gift shop we were in a hurry to get, too.

The Summer Palace and Forbidden City were quite spectacular. It brought a little more understanding to why a young Chinese man would go through the process of becoming a Eunuch so as to gain access to these places.

Only a little understanding though.

And on our final day in Beijing, we went to the famed Great Wall of China.

It was incredibly cold and windy at the top of the wall, but still an amazing site to visit. There are only a few places I've been to that lived up to the hype that surrounds such touristy destinations. Machu Picchu in Peru and Angkor Wat in Cambodia were two of them. Those places genuinely left me in awe. The Colosseum in Rome was a huge dissapointment, however.

The Great Wall had a lot of hype to live up too, but I was still very much impressed with it. The section we visited was very well preserved, and the view from the highest point was breath-taking (Dad and Debi will have to take my word for it... they didn't make it).

I could have spent days walking the length of the Great Wall, but our guide only alloted about two hours for our visit.

After all, we did have a gift shop to visit.

Tiananmen Square

Outside the Ming Tomb

Dad can now add Asia to the list of Continents he has been embarrassing on

Enamel factory (followed by gift shop)

Jade factory (followed by gift shop)

At the highest point on the Great Wall

2008 Olympic Stadium- The Bird's Nest

Eating Peking duck in Beijing

Inside the Forbidden City. Apparently they will let anybody in nowadays.

Amii and I outside the Temple of Heaven