Sunday, January 28, 2007

Good Morning from Beijing, China's 2:35am Monday morning here in China, and I'm still not quite adjusted to the time change as you can see here.

Arrived Sat evening around 6pm on a very quiet and uneventful flight from Chicago. Business class is the bomb, but I did find out that the company will allow you to elect to fly coach and give you the difference in cash if you choose to do so....kicker is that you can then pay to upgrade (using points) and end up in business class and a couple of thousand ahead in the process. Something to think about next time, as I should have enough points to upgrade now.

Anyway, Steve and I made our way to the hotel, checked in and pretty much crashed for the night....I made it until about 11pm watching HBO and Cinemax in the room (War of the Worlds). Woke back up at 3am and pretty much stayed up all day.

Steve and I had a pretty normal breakfast at the hotel...eggs, bacon, toast then decided to take a quick walk around and see what we could see....saw this and decided to take the pic...not sure what it is, but it's in downtown Beijing. I have to admit I've been impressed with everything so far. People have been very nice and helpful, city is fairly clean (reminds me of NYC in alot of ways)...although you do get a whiff of some pungent smells walking the streets at times.

Made back to the hotel in time to find out that there was a daily tour bus that left for the Great Wall at we quickly gathered our stuff, paid the $280 RMD....about $35 USD (8-1 exchange) and got ready for the trip. Ended up on a very nice bus with a French husband and wife for the tour, along with the tour guide and her family (husband and two children). Made the 1.5 hr drive to the great wall and snapped the following pics....
This is from the ski-lift heading up the mountain. For anyone that doesn't know, the GWC was built around 1400BC and runs along the spine of a mountain ridge....
 you can see here...the wall snakes back and forth on the top of these boggles my mind the work that it took 3400 years ago to drag the bricks up by hand to build this wall. Simply amazing....

Me on the Great Wall....the other amazing thing is that there are very few flat spots on the wall...the bulk of the wall is on stone staircases. I made it to the first guardhouse, but then decided that I wanted to be able to get back down and not be airlifted off the wall, so left Steve to walk the rest of the steps while I snapped pics and admired the view.

The next building is where I stopped...long walk, lots of stairs...and I'm way out of shape for that type of thing.

Not sure how to caption this, but that blade was real metal sitting on my shoulder......brrrrr. Cost me $2 usd for the biggie for a cool picture.

After leaving the wall, we went to a silk manufacturing business and spent some time learning on how Chinese silk is produced (does come from silk worms) and the silk threads are unwound from the cocoon. Anyway, ended up in a store front with the goal being selling us some silk products. I have to admit, I couldn't pass up a nice silk tie for $120 rmd ($14 usd).
Next, we stopped at a tea shop that showed us 5-6 different types of traditional teas and explained the brewing, smelling and tasting of the different teas. Of course, we ended up in a shop where you can buy tea and tea sets...didn't purchase anything as I think I can get better prices outside of Beijing later in the trip. On the drive back to the hotel we drove past some of the Olympic sites for the 2008 Summer Olympics....will be interested to see what everyone thinks of the aquatic center and 'birds nest' when they see them for the Olympics next year.
Anyway, that pretty much wraps up day one...planning on Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven tomorrow before starting the work on Tuesday and the sightseeing pretty much ends until Sunday.
ttfn...going to try and get some sleep now.


At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Jen said...

Wow, it looks really cool. I'm glad you're having a good time. We miss you.


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