An uneventful, restful sea day. Much needed.
March 15, 2010- Beijing (Day 11)
First of all, let me say that we actually ported in Tianjin....several hours drive from Beijing. We were supposed to be able to disembark and step on Chinese soil around 8am. By noon, we just getting off. That's the Chinese Government run around for ya! Evidently this happens to most everyone, but I was not prepared for this long wait. We had already cleared customs, we had our Chinese Visas, the ship was cleared...so what was the hold up? Well, nothing....just red tape.
Anyhow, since we got such a late start the Chinese tour company we used rearranged our tours somewhat to squeeze in everything we wanted to do. After the long drive in to Beijing, we stopped at a local restaurant for a quick bite to eat. We then headed to the Forbidden City.
The Forbidden City is where the Chinese royalty, Ming and Qing Dynasties, lived. It was called the Forbidden City, because common people were not allowed to enter. Although built back in the 1400s, the Forbidden City wasn't open to common people until somewhere around 1925 when it basically became a museum. The people still consider it to be an almost reverent place. It is well preserved and quite beautiful.
I just love the water drains around here....those lion and dragon heads that spit water were everywhere.
Gotta love those English translations..LOL! Anyhow, even though this was a 4 Star Rated Toilet, it's not what we, Westerners, think of as a Toilet. The majority of toilets (if not 100% of the public toilets in china) are really squats. Roughly described, a Squat is a hole in the ground that may or may not have liquid in it that you do your business into. They are usually completely grotesque...and that is an understatement.
And you can definitely forget about toilet paper...
After visiting the Forbidden City, we went to see Tienanmen Square. The Square is the largest city center in the world. A lot has happened in this heavily protected Square from proclamations made by Mao Zedong, military displays, and lots of protests resulting in harm including one dubbed the Tienanmen Square Massacre. Even while we were there, there were military marching around and cameras on all the light posts.
At the far end is the China Gate. It has a picture of their famous leader, Chairman Mao as they call him. The rest of us know him simply as Mao Zedong.
I saw tons of little kiddos wearing these awesome animal hats. There were street people everywhere trying to sell stuff (including these hats to you). I eventually talked one down to $3 USD...how cute is it? It was super cold (I mean it had just snowed!), so this actually was a good purchase.
After leaving Tienanmen Square, we checked into our hotel for a quick rest and then headed back out for a Chinese dinner at the famous Peking Duck restaurant in Beijing.We ate at the famous Quanjude Roasted Duck Restaurant, which many former Presidents and US officials have eaten over the years. The restuarant, which is 5 stories tall, serves the Peking Duck tableside.
I am really picky, but I did eat this. I didn't like the traditional way of wrapping it in lettuce in your hand and dipping it in the black licorice type sauce. I did, however, like the duck wrapped in lettuce and dipped in Chinese Sweet And Sour sauce. (At least I liked it at the time I ate it....I did not like it 2 hours later when it all came back up and gave me a high fever and cold sweats. Nor did I like it that I didn't feel like eating anything for days to come....and mind you we had to get back on a bus only a few hours after this and travel 2 hours outside of Beijing to see the Great Wall and then another 5 hour drive from there back to the port in Tianjin. Oh me...)
First, however, before we went back to the hotel for a few hours of rest (or if you were me sickness). We visited the Olympic park in Beijing from the 2008 Olympics.
How about the Bird's Nest? It's too bad I didn't have a tripod to get these pics.
Next Stop...The Great Wall of China
to be continued...
(did you miss the beginning of our trip to Asia? Click HERE to view)