Wednesday, May 30, 2012

bring it, beijing

so beijing is crazy. i may have mentioned that before. crazy. not only are there cars, and people, and buses, and motorcycles everywhere, there is also a thick cloud of smog covering the city. if it was sunny we didn't know. i think it was. maybe.

while both cori and i are pretty handy with a map, we decided it would be best if we allowed someone else navigate beijing. so we book a tour that took us to the summer palace, the forbidden city, and the temple of heaven...with an english guide and entrances into the places. AND wait there is more...lunch included.


so we went to the summer palace. which is really cool. it was made for the emperor's wife, who really wanted to be the actual emperor. they affectionately refer to her as the dragon lady. i hope because the dragon is the symbol of the emperor and not because she was crazy. anyway. the summer palace was hers. it has nice gardens, a pretty big lake, and some nice temples. nothing super intense or crazy. just a lot of pretty things (when you could see them through the smog).

after the summer palace, our tour guide informed us that yes indeed there was more included in our tour. we got the privilege of going to a silk and tea 'factory.' really we had a short demonstration on how silk was made that was actually pretty interesting and then led into the show room where war could buy quilts, clothes, robes, etc. so basically. here things. Same thing at the tea factory. there we got to try different teas and then we could buy some. i may or may not have bought some delicious fruit tea. i'm such a sucker. oh well.

after the factory, it was time for lunch. YES! (we kinda missed breakfast and attempted to get something at the summer palace which turned out horrible, gross) so i was starving. Kevin (that was our guides name. or at least his english one) ordered. it was great. it was a beef dish with mushrooms, and fried eggs, and then a tomato and egg dish, and then bok choy with a side of rice. can't forget the rice.

after lunch we went to the forbidden city. IT IS HUGE. just fyi. there are different rooms and throne rooms all throughout in case the emperor got tired and wanted to stop. There are also different stairs to go up. the middle set is where the emperor always went up. those stairs are still blocked off today. the emperor and queen(?) would also go through different gates. the emperor would go through the front, and the queen and the concubines and maids through the back. the queen  would also go through the middle and the concubines would go through the side and the amides the other side.  the emperor would also go through the middle gate and the priests and gov't officials would go through the sides. interesting.

anyway. the forbidden city is a city because it had to house all of the maids, priests, officials, concubines, workers, etc.

after the city we went to the temple of heaven. which shockingly enough was built to honor the heavens. which is why the temple is round and blue. both symbols of heaven. the grounds are pretty as well. the chinese sure do like their gardens.

after we went to the temple, we are on our way home. But we had one last stop. unfortunately we had to actually think and navigate ourselves. or just walk to the metro and get out at the correct stop. rocket science really. and we accomplished it. right to Tiananmen square. we walked around a bit. there isn't much to look at besides a massive picture of chinese dictator. back to the hotel to grab our bags.

then we had to baby step it all the way to the train station. we were so exhausted again that lugging our bags all the  way to the metro and then on the metro and to our train seemed like crazy talk. but we made it. got some dinner. and then ventured to find our platform. which we did.

then we had to find our beds. our ticket was all in chinese so we didn't know what the numbers meant. once on the train i showed my ticket to one person and she had signaled me one way. then i showed it to another lady and bless her heart she took us all the way to where we needed to be and pointed out what the numbers meant. car 11 bed 9. perfect. time to relax and sleep all the way to shanghai.

on the night train. beijing does not look good on us. we are gross.

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