Beijing: so much to do and so little time....
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 2 of 19 › view all entries
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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....