Saturday, June 14, 2008

Another Great Day in Beijing

Today was a very busy day. Our first stop was Tiananmen Square, it was surprising how large the square is. Apparently it can hold up to 1 million people. The buildings are very majestic looking when you are up close. Security is very tight in and around the square. The day was rainy and cool all day, so many of the pictures are a little hazy. From the Tiananmen Square we walked into the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was built in 1420 and is where the Emperor's lived until 1924. It was huge, approximately 3/4 miles long and 1/2 miles wide with 9,999 rooms inside. It probably took us 3 hours to get all the way through it. After lunch we took a tour of the Hutong neighborhoods. They drove us around in Pettycabs which are bicycles with a two person cab on the back. The alleys of the Hutong are too small for a vehicle tour. The Hutongs are the old living areas in Beijing. They are essentially squares with rooms around the outside and a courtyard in the center. You may have a dozen families living in one Hutong. They are very quaint little neighborhoods, but they are not very convenient to live in. Most do not have running water, or heat. They have a central stove area for cooking and community (public restrooms) for them to use. It is mostly the older people that live in the Hutongs now. Most of the young people live in the apartments. After the Hutong tour we drove by the Olympic venue. The new stadium is called the "Birds Nest" and when you see the picture you will know why. We then went to an acrobat show. They were amazing!! The funniest part was when the three of us sat down next to probably 10 older Chinese women. They just kept looking at us and laughing. I said Nihao (hello) and she must of though I was fluent in Chinese because the asked me all kinds of questions. Our guide was not with us at the time to the communication was not good but everybody had a good laugh. Dinner was excellent, just down the street from the hotel. Our favorite so far is the chicken dishes, they are good at every restaurant. Well, tomorrow we catch a plane to Lanzhou and get Andy...Gotcha Day. We are very excited.

More to come..


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