Saturday, August 6, 2011

day 1 sightseeing in Beijing

Yesterday was a FULL day of sightseeing and a lot of fun.

We met our travel group families at breakfast and in the lobby. (ET families, we've decided we are traveling with some twin families…like the Mitchells, the Schmidts, and the Moles families.)

We got on the bus (our tour bus) and first went to Tiananman Square. LOL—we were not allowed to discuss politics or take pictures of anyone in uniform. There were lots of people everywhere we went. I think there were a couple hundred thousand people in the square. We took some photos and then walked over to the Forbidden City. We walked all the way through, from front to back, through each gate. This was were the emperor’s family lived. No one goes in, no one comes out. (hehe--I was singing the Oompa Loompa song in the shower this morning.) The buildings were magnificent, and we got to see one of the golden thrones. My absolute favorite part was the Imperial Garden. I loved the smaller buildings surrounding it and all the interesting plants and rock structures. By the time we got back to the bus, we had been walking for 2.5 hours!

Then we went to lunch, our first taste of authentic Chinese cuisine. So good! This was probably my favorite meal so far. We ate at a table for 10 with the food on a large spinner in the middle. You just spin the glass when you want a dish moved closer to you. My favorite parts were the leeks and the cucumbers.

We got to visit a pearl factory store and learn about how pearls are found and the difference between ocean and freshwater pearls. Pink freshwater pearls come from China—no where else. We saw some very beautiful jewelry and bought a little.

Next we went to Summer Palace, but it had rained while we were in the pearl shop and so the photos were all hazy. There is a beautiful bridge and a man-made lake that we saw. Across the lake was the palace itself, where the emperor rested.

Then we went to a Silk Factory and saw how silk blankets were made. We even got to try to stretch the silk out for a blanket. We oogled over all the pretty fabrics and the adorable baby clothes.

We drove by the Olympic Village and took some photos of the Bird’s Nest and surrounding buildings. It brought back a lot of memories of the Seoul Olympics for me. The buildings are not really being used now but are owned by the government.

We went to a Tea House and participated in a tea ceremony. We got to try 5 kinds of tea. My favorites were the jasmine and fruit teas. The ceremony was very entertaining…we laughed a lot! Then we got to purchase some gifts.

Finally, we went to a Chinese duck dinner. I didn’t like the food as well, and by this point I was ready to collapse. It was all I could do to stay upright in the chair from jet lag. I liked the taste of duck…it reminded me a lot of turkey. I liked the little pieces I took off the plate myself, but I didn’t like it when they offered it wrapped in an injera/crepe-like thing with vegetables. I wasn’t feeling the best anyway by this point, so I was grateful when we left.

When we got back to the hotel, I put on pjs and was asleep about 5 seconds after hitting the pillow. J

Aidan and Iona, we love you and miss you a ton. We can’t wait to skype with you in the next couple of days so you can meet Brendan. We meet him tomorrow! Please give each other lots of hugs for us and have fun with your friends. We love you!!

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