Beijing Highlights

February 28, 2008

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China has always flown under the radar as far as being a country that I wanted to travel to, but here I am. Since I wasn’t able to update while in China (ah, the beauty of censorship), here are a few of my favorite things about my China trip:

First stop, The Great Wall. Pictures can’t prepare you for how massive the wall is! We stopped at one of the less crowded spots, and only saw a few people over several hours of hiking. It’s amazing that you can still take pictures of the wall and it looks like the wall never ends, it just loops up and over and around the next hill. As a side note, I wonder how they traveled the tops of the wall, given the average height of the Chinese and Mongols in those days, and the average height of the steps…. hmmm….

Accidentally getting trapped inside a hutong (shanty town within the city), on the way to the Temple of Heaven, and ultimately squeezing through a little fence to get back out on the main roads.

The local Chinese guide on the Tienanmen Square & Forbidden City tour openly answered our questions about the square, the student uprising, Mao etc, (but not until after we’d left the square because of secret police). Since the original events weren’t televised, he didn’t even learn about it until university!

A truly local lunch. Since our local guide had to eat lunch too, he offered to take us to his favorite restaurant. It ended up being my favorite meal in China! They typically do family-style dinners, which averages 1 dish per person and then you share it all. Fried bean curd, rice, cashew glazed chicken, sweet peas, broccoli and massive Chinese beers. It was also nice to have someone else order, instead of pointing at pictures.

Tea! I knew tea was a big part of Chinese culture, but it’s seriously everywhere. I did a free tea ceremony near The Forbidden City which ended up being really fun.

Colorful exercise equipment. Beijing is littered with exercise stands. Walking by the lake we found an elliptical-styled one and further in town we even found some snowboarding type ones. Mid-day workout, Beijing style

The Silk Market, where you can get knock-off anything fo cheap cheap cheap. Don your Chinese accents please… “You like price?” “Lady, you want t-shirt” “Lady, you want jeans” “Prada, Louis Vuitton, ??DVD?” and my favorite… “Lady, I found the panda you’ve been looking for” How did she know? ;)

Squat toilets. No, not a highlight of my trip, but certainly memorable. Seeing Chinese girls teetering out of the toilets in 5 inch heels, I was baffled as to how they balanced on those “starting blocks”.

Next stop, Xi’an. (pronounced “She on”)