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Beijing: so much to do and so little time....

Beijing Travel Blog

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This exciting dragon boat carried us from the forbidden city to the summer palace

We had gotten enough sleep on the plane that we were ready for the day.

They took us to the motel and we got our rooms .... then went down to breakfast.  The buffet was amazing.  It must have had 100 dishesl....   We hooked up with a great couple, Kathy and Dave Anderson and ate with them... then....   it came out Dave was fluent in Mandarin.  Hooray!  How lucky is that??!! 

We caught a taxi and told the driver we wanted to go to the canals that ran behind the imperial forbidden city and ride up to the summer palace and zoo.   Although the cabbie was from Beijing he had never heard of it.

David and I at the docks before we took off... this little ride took about an hour: it started from the forbidden city and ended at the summer palace: the zoo was by the summer palace: much much funner than a taxi with the smog and traffic
  He was a great sport and he actually found the landing and the ticket office.   He was as excited as we were!   The boat landing had a tiny little ticket office window.  The boats were glorious yellow dragons.....  I was so excited that they were so unique!  (there is one behind us on our profile picture.)

We rode the boat up and looked at the river sights.  It was  interesting to see the people down swimming  and washing themselves in the canal.   (yucky icky water...)  and we  looked up at the houses that lined the canal....    There were lots of Chinese tourists on the ride:... With the exception of David, me, Kathy and Dave everyone was Chinese.

summer palace dog/dragon. people stood in line to get their pictures taken with it: then several of them asked us to stand with them too.
  During the entire  trip there was a tour guide lady who had a bull horn and  was yelling and yelling into it.   Telling the sights.... pointing and gestering and yelling  at the top of her lungs and with no break.   ....   it was really kind of amusing.... we had no idea what she was saying but occasionally people would react to what she said and look happy or laugh.....  Practicing my horrible Mandarin I told the pilot (while gesturing at the scene in front of us)  "Hun, Hun Hao"  attempting to say "very very good".....  I asked David Anderson to tell him the scenery was beautiful for me.... David did this but the man told him he understood me perfectly.  (WOW...he must have been psychic....)

We saw the zoo from the boat (which consisted of very little exept some signs) then switched to a new boat and rode on to the summer palace.

the bridge at the summer palace
  The summer palace was built by the dowager Empress Wixi and a lot of it was built with money that was supposed to be for the military /  navy.  she actually built a huge marble boat shaped house on the water.   what moxie.    The palace was incredible.  It had islands and walkways that threaded up and around.  It was so beautifully painted and the landscaping was wonderful.  They had rooms set up as museums .. row upon row of Imperial treasures.. some of the works were carved jade and they were incredibly intricate and detailed.  Wonderful trees and scenes.  It was like walking though a story book.    And it was hot ...hot... hot ..... 90's and very humid. ....Dave Anderson kept buying us water.
david and i at the summer palace..
.....thank goodness he was there.... It was a life saver to keep hydrated ....  I would feel myself drooping and he would get more water....

  The grounds were perfectly manicured and spotless.  It is really a credit to the  grounds persons and that it was so clean.   It was golden week and there were so many people to pick up after..

There was so much we didn't get to see even a 1/4 of it although we were there almost 4 hours.   We could see a huge, long line of people standing on a staircase that meandered up the hill about 5 blocks away from us.  We decided to skip that part as we would be in line a long time and we were out of the time we had allocated.  Then we went back to the boats to ride to the zoo.

Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an, Terracotta soldiers: a quick video with music that shows shots from our Friendly Planet Tour: A Taste of China ... Enjoy!
.... and we actually saw it instead of trying to look through the trees of the canals.

We loved the zoo.   It was kind of run down and not as clean as most tourist places but it was full of happy Chinese tourist families on vacation....   and ..... get this...... zoo employees  with bull horns stood and yelled where to stand and how to get into line..... then we went into the panda area and..... yikes.... they were in there also (closed glassed area)  with a bullhorn telling people where the panda was and what he was doing.  (poor thing appeared to be trying to get some shuteye)  We found it very surprising that it was so  noisy.   It seems like the noise would stress the animals..  (.It was crowded  and there were hundreds upon hundreds of families out as this week is labor week and every one is off work to be with their families:  It is a huge huge national holiday that lasts 7 days.
Panda at the zoo.... this was very interesting to go to.
   the kids are all only children so the parents and grand parents are so attentive and catering to them.   sometimes I felt sorry for the adults....)    anyway.... back to the zoo and the bullhorns..... 

We walked outside and there was yet another panda.   He lumbered across a raised bed and the people with the bull horns went wild yelling exactly what he was doing.   there were several of bullhorners and it was as though they were competing on the cacophony....   but it was really funny.   When we walked over,  (along with a couple hundred Chinese people to take a picture) the guards didn't think we had the right angle and redirected us to a better viewing area.

they bring a whole duck and slice it at your table. I got one piece that was all bone. I tried and tried different parts then we realized it was the head because we saw the beak... yikes. It was funny. I tried the brain. It tasted like chicken :)
  And people gestured and cleared the way pointing and smiling to help us get pictures from just the right vantage point, ... how sweet.  And really kind as they too were on vacation ....    We kept saying thank you to everyone.... and they smiled and nodded.....

We are celebrities here.   We have been asked to stand with 20 people or so to have their pictures taken with us.   And we are stared at intently by every pair of eyes where ever we go.  Sometimes people would stare and walk and  then walk off the sidewalk edges or into poles.... Yikes.....   We are getting used to it but it's a little unnerving.   They are not unkind but David is 6'6 and I am very blond so we are sort of an oddity.

the yellow dragon boat that traveled from forbidden city to summer palace
  We are friendly and smile so people feel they can approach us..... 

We caught a taxi and went to a Peking duck dinner.  The building  was 6 floors high.  Although we were number 57 it took only 20 minutes to get in.   We were the only non Chinese there.   We were the center of attention when we walked into the dining room;.   Several people took our picture (sitting and eating...)  and one little girl walked over and asked if she could take the picture.  She took a couple then our friend, David,  spoke to her in Mandarin.  I gave her some American coins.   She was very excited......  Traditionally Chinese say no when you give them something.   You need to ask them to take it 3 times.
Kathy and Dave Anderson: a wonderful couple to spend a day with: he is fluent mandarin and she is completely cheery and happy all the time: a can do gal.
   She reallllly wanted the coins but said no.... no..... then an elated thank you!!!!   She was so happy that I insisted....  It was a little risky saying no.... what if I had not known to insist???   She was so darling!

Peking duck is eaten a certain way:    They bring out an entire duck....   then they cut it.  the skin is on a plate to be dipped in plum sauce and eaten.  the meat is dipped in plum sauce, then put onto a thin crepe (sorry spelling problem here.... pancake that is very very thin)  and some thinly sliced onions are put on it then it is rolled carefully and the bottom folded up then it's eaten.  it must be in this order.   (or the waitress gets very worried and gives you the lesson on eating again...)   We got fruit drinks but they seemed a bit old and they weren't chilled so we left them
.... 

jethanad says:
wonderful write-up
Posted on: Dec 07, 2013
sylviandavid says:
This was a really great day.... with the Anderson's along we had someone who spoke mandarin... so we could get around easily. Later we found we could get around OK by just drawing or by miming what we wanted.... We really would love to visit China again!
Posted on: Jul 11, 2013
WalterC says:
That entry title is so true with a lot of places, seeing the list of things to see and do, is enough to make people go bonkers haha. Nice blog so far!
Posted on: Jul 11, 2013
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This exciting dragon boat carried …
This exciting dragon boat carried…
David and I at the docks before we…
David and I at the docks before w…
summer palace dog/dragon.  people …
summer palace dog/dragon. people…
the bridge at the summer palace
the bridge at the summer palace
david and i at the summer palace..
david and i at the summer palace..
Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an, Terraco…
Panda at the zoo....  this was ver…
Panda at the zoo.... this was ve…
they bring a whole duck and slice …
they bring a whole duck and slice…
the yellow dragon boat that travel…
the yellow dragon boat that trave…
Kathy and Dave Anderson:  a wonder…
Kathy and Dave Anderson: a wonde…
the boat at the dock: the dock is …
the boat at the dock: the dock is…
My best friend David waiting to tr…
My best friend David waiting to t…
After this bridge we got off and w…
After this bridge we got off and …
Here we are!  ready to explore
Here we are! ready to explore
a view looking back out towards th…
a view looking back out towards t…
willows framing the bridge were so…
willows framing the bridge were s…
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
bridge pillars
bridge pillars
post on far side of the bridge
post on far side of the bridge
Bridge post
Bridge post
Everyone gets their picture taken …
Everyone gets their picture taken…
David and I at the famous statue a…
David and I at the famous statue …
david and sylvia .... summer palace
david and sylvia .... summer palace
panda at zoo
panda at zoo
summer palace bridge
summer palace bridge
Looking up the bridge
Looking up the bridge
scenery from the boat as we went by
scenery from the boat as we went by
approaching a bridge
approaching a bridge
Bridge and unloading area for the …
Bridge and unloading area for the…
posters of the zoo from the river …
posters of the zoo from the river…
summer palace
summer palace
Post details... beautiful carvings
Post details... beautiful carvings
people on the bridge...golden week…
people on the bridge...golden wee…
we order juice: mango watermelon o…
we order juice: mango watermelon …
Beijing
photo by: Deats