Summer Palace, Pandas, Pearls and Rickshaws

Beijing Travel Blog

 › entry 5 of 17 › view all entries

          This morning we had some major drama in the hotel checkout. The instructions were to bring your suitcase down to the van at 7:40, go to breakfast, and then be in your room for inspection at 8:30. One of our kids was confused because he thought it was a good time to start washing his clothes at 8:00! I am not kidding. Kitty came into breakfast to tell me that one of the bags was missing. I sent a student around to figure out who it was. She told me that one of the boys was doing his laundry. Sure enough when Jill went up for room checks he had a sink full of soaking wet clothes. What?! Thank God it was Jill and not me is all I am saying. She started throwing his clothes into bags. He ended up missing breakfast and since his suitcase wasn't there in time, he had to bring it around with him all day.

          We went to the Summer Palace.

This was where the Emperor lived from April to October when it was too hot in the Forbidden City. It is on a big lake so there is a nice breeze. It really was much cooler there than in the center of the city. I really loved it there. Kitty told us stories of past Emperors and the Dragon Lady. There was a long corridor that was filled with beautiful art. I got lots of photos of the big Pagoda on the hill. Some places there was relaxing music playing and there were men painting on the sidewalk with water and sponges. We walked around to the other side of the lake and took a dragon boat back to the beginning.

          Next, in true P2P form, we went to a Pearl Store. It seems like they always take us to these places where they show us where gems and other shinny things are found and made then give us a "discount" so all the little sheep will buy all the fancy jewelry. I bought an opal ring in Australia and the stupid stone popped right out. Jill's did too. So this time it was Pearls. I will say it was neat seeing the freshwater oyster that the pearls came from.

This thing was huge and there were 20 or so pearls in it! But I stayed strong and didn't buy anything this time.

          Lunch was a Chinese Buffet, nothing to write home about. And then we made our way to the Beijing Zoo to see the Pandas. We were not able to see the whole zoo, just the panda house. They were cute, I must admit. Apparently they redid the whole zoo for the 2008 Olympics. Which is not unlike most of the city.

          After pandas we went to Old Beijing. We climbed to the top of a drum tower that gave a birds-eye view of the city. It was a rough climb. Especially since my legs were sore from the Great Wall climb yesterday.

The stairs were extremely steep. When we got to the top our guide gave a talk about stuff you could see that was quite boring then we waited for the drum performance. It was very much like the drumming in the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics. I loved it and wished it were longer. When we got to the bottom our rickshaws were waiting to take us through the narrow streets of the Dugong Village. This place was very old and slum-like. We ended up in a local family’s house. The house was quite small. Only three sort-of rooms. They have to share the public toilet because there is none in the houses. This woman spoke about how she was a painter and made her living on painting inside of glass bottles. Her niece had taken over the business. The bottles were very beautiful and detailed. Very impressive. She said that the government has given them as gifts to Queen Elizabeth and... the governor of Minnesota! Wow! Can you believe it? And guess what? They will sell our P2P group some for a great discount! Can you hear the sound of the sheep ripping their wallets open? Should have seen that one coming.

          For dinner we ate the ever so famous Peking Duck.

It was alright. Tasted like the dark meat on Thanksgiving. Then we headed to the train station. Now from reading other people's travel blogs, I was scared to death of getting these kiddos through this train station alive. It was really not too bad though. We had the equivalent of first-class ticket; soft sleeper. From there it goes down to hard sleeper, soft seat and the worst is hard seat. So we waited in a seating area for about an hour before our train was called. The cars were quite nice. Kitty, Jill, Cheryl and I all shared a compartment. The kiddos were all in the next car over running wild, I am sure. The beds were a bit hard but not too bad the moving of the train, rocked me to sleep.

Just as a side note, I wanted to mention that I had my first attempt at an Eastern Style toilet today. (I had been avoiding them at all costs up until now). I have heard how terrible they are but really it wasn't bad at all. I was so worried that I was going to pee on myself but really, it doesn't even come close. It almost seems more sanitary because you don't ever touch anything.

You have to have good leg power though. And while we are having potty talk, let's talk about the kids that walk around in crotchless pants. Apparently diapers can be quite expensive so what many Chinese parents do is just have the kids walk around with their asses hanging out. When they start to go, they just put them down and let them run with it. You could argue that maybe potty training is faster this way. Not sure. I just know I have seen a lot of little kid ass on this trip.


Quotes of the day:

Mandi- "I have been to 4 continents; North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.


Jill- "Haven't you been to Mexico?"

Mandi- "Yes, it is in North America."


Boy- "Kitty told me I could check the bus real quickly."

Me- "Check it for what?"

Boy- "I need to see if my horse fell over."

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photo by: Deats