Tuesday, May 24, 2011

33BA - Day 12 - The Forbidden City, Tian An Men Square

Our last day in China. We have to still wake up pretty early because we have another tour planned. We get up around 6:30, get dressed and head to the breakfast buffet. I’m going to miss the wide variety of breakfast foods. It’s going to be a tough change going back to oatmeal every morning. We walk over to the other hotel that people from our group are staying at to meet our tour guide for the day, Miranda.

Get on the bus and drive to our first spot of the day, the Forbidden City. We walk around for a few minutes, watching the seniors get their exercise in for the day. They do exercises and play badminton. They knit and play dominoes and socialize. We walk around and get a few pictures in.

That's me in the light blue dress

Then we head to our next stop of the day, the Silk Exhibition Hall and learned how silk is made. We watched how the silk is changed from a single thread and stretched to make layers of quilts. The exhibition hall is also a retail store, and they had bedding and clothing and accessories for sale. It was all out of my price range, but high quality goods. Most people in our group did purchase things though.

The stages of a silk worm

After that, we had some time to kill before lunch so we went to another “market.” This one was more of a retail type market and all indoors. The bottom level was all pricey jewelry. The upper levels were clothing and electronics and less expensive jewelry. The people in this market are the most aggressive salespeople I have ever encountered! They follow you, they interrupt you and join in your conversations. They scream at you. They get in your face, they grab you. It was VERY confining and uncomfortable. There might have been some stuff I would have been interested in looking at but the environment was way too stressful. I couldn’t even stop and look at anything without feeling harassed. L and I decided to hide outside until the bus picks us up.

Next stop, lunch. We went to a decently upscale restaurant for our authentic Peking Duck lunch. Food was still served family style, and brought out in courses. I made sure to try just about everything. The food is so good! I even did try the duck, and it was really good. While we were eating there was also a wedding reception happening so we got to watch some of the rituals. One of which was apparently making the groom smoke out of a cigarette bong. Gross.

Duck with scallions and celery
Cigarette bong
After lunch we had the largest walking portion of the tour. We got dropped off at the gates of the Forbidden City, then walked through Tian An Men Square. We were informed that the square is the largest public gathering place in the world – large enough for a million people to gather at one time. Insane. After walking across the store, we head into the Forbidden City. So much walking and so many stairs. I’m pretty sore from the marathon and my legs are screaming at me. The buildings are beautiful and we are told they are repainted every four years to keep them looking so nice. We also visit the Imperial Gardens and the Temple of Heaven.

It was clean and had toilet paper. Bonus.
Hole in the floor toilet sign. Hilarious and true.

The bus picks us up at 5:00 and we are taken back to the hotel so that we change our clothes and go to the Gala dinner. After L and I get ready, we go to the lobby to try and figure out our airport transportation. We are the only ones that have super early flights and we haven’t had much luck scheduling a taxi. We finally get someone that speaks decent English and he is able to help us. We find out we will need to exchange more money so that we have enough Yuan for the driver, luckily they change money at the hotel.

The bus picks us up at 6:30 and drives us to the Beijing Hotel for our celebration dinner. The hotel is a five star hotel and absolutely amazing. The food is served buffet style and I finally get a huge selection of desserts. Lucky for me, most of the dessert is sorta blah and bland so I don’t eat as much. We stay for a while to chat and listen to the awards, then before we know it, it’s already after 9:00, so we grab a bus and head back to the hotel. We make sure we are fully packed, but it is after 10:00 before we get to sleep.

Dragon show
Food food food
Delicious looking (but bland) desserts
Lauren, Rick, Me, L


  1. I seriously need to get out more. First thing I said to myself "Oh, that looks like Epcot!"


    But you know, even at Epcot I am very careful to not look too hard or touch things when shopping in China. Once they see you pick something up they are in your face asking if you want them to hold it at the counter while you pick out more.

    This day looks like a lovely reward for such a hard race. A nice way to end the journey - shopping craziness aside, of course.

  2. I love how well you documented your trip.

  3. OMG! Beautiful buildings & DEEELISH food! MORE!


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