February 17th, 2010 – by: spocklogic
Welcome to the Forbidden City
I booked a tour through my hotel to take me sightseeing. Usually I do things on my own, but Beijing is one of those cities so vast it takes a tour to really see it. I met a woman in the lobby, Odette, and she was from Mexico. We were joined by a woman and her father from Alabama. It was great, and we all got along famously from the start. Our tour guide (jonnie) spoke excellent english and seemed used to the cold. I can assure you the rest of us were freezing, but she was a paragon to follow. We started out at the Forbidden City, and we were comforted by the tales of palace intrigue, history of various places and generally excellent depiction of life in China through the dynasties.
Welcome to the Summer Palace
I was really impressed our guide did such a superb job, despite the cold weather. As the morning went on, it hardly warmed up and we ventured to the Temple of Heaven. It was not so windy as the Forbidden City, but still quite cold. Amazing place, and there was an Emperor Show going on as we arrived, which was quite captivating. Even on a freezing cold day there were hundreds of people there. I got a call on my phone - It was Gang wondering how I was doing. Nice of him to check in I thought - he seemed happy to find me on a tour. No sooner I had finished talking to him when I got another call. It was Ray and she was at the train station heading back to Guangzhou. She wanted to wish me happy travels, and I wished her the same. It was nice to know she was thinking of me.
Welcome to the Temple of Heaven
The next destination on our tour was The Summer Palace, but first we stopped at the silk factory. I guess tours do this and get some commission if we buy stuff. I could have skipped it and they have a jewelry place there too. Buy silk and diamonds... No millionaire here, but I liked some of the silk sheets and bought a set at a reasonable price. I never have opened them up and figure I'll save them for some special occasion someday. Eventually we made it to the Summer Palace and lunch was arranged for us there. It was good to have something hot, warm up and chat with my tour companions in relaxed surroundings. We braved the cold again and I guess this place must be fantastic, but it's bare and stark looking in February. Odette and I ventured to the Temple up the long stairway, but our tour guide and companions from Alabama stayed behind in a cafe.
Oh, it was worth the effort, and some great views! That was basically the end of the tour and we were all ready to head back before it got dark. I had another call on my phone, who could it be? It was Lily, asking if I wanted to see the Chinese Acrobat Show that evening. Sure, why not! I met her at the Yaochang Theater to take in the show. Wow! This was really quite amazing and it is something special to see. We has seats fairly close to the stage and it was perfection in human dexterity, strength, balance and coordination. It was an amazing show and I was quite pleased. So ended another evening. Lily and I made plans to go out the next day (my last) to see some things she thought I would like. I agreed, but still was thinkining of my friend, Gang. I asked, of course, but he was in family discussions as his father was not doing very well. I told him I was here if he needed me as a friend. Tomorrow would be my last full day in Beijing.