This is my experience in Beijing, China in the Summer of 2009.
If you came to this webpage first, it's better if you
start from the beginning of the story.
Saturday, July 25
This place was packed when we arrived.
We only walked around a little and took a boat ride back.
I was disappointed because we didn't have time to climb
any of the temples or pagodas.
We didn`t climb the main tower to see the thousand hand
It was a much abbreviated trip. We really didn`t
see inside any of the towers/pagodas.
They dropped us off at a pearl factory and it was quite
interesting but I had no interest in buying pearls.
They did have a couple of jade men`s rings though
and I liked one of them. They wanted $3000USD
for it at first but eventually came down to $1500USD
just as I was leaving.
We had lunch at this cloisonne factory on the second floor.
Evidently it was the only restaurant near this part of the Great Wall.
Of course, we had to see the factory after lunch.
It was just too convenient.
The food was good but it had too much fried foods including
We went to a new entrance of the Great Wall I wasn`t familiar with.
used this entrance as an endpoint to the marathon race in the
2008 Beijing Olympics.
Our official tour itinerary listed we were to take the cable cars
up the Great Wall,
possibly using the Mutianyu entrance, and having
a leisurely walk around that section of the Great Wall.
Instead, we had to climb this one section of the wall in +100F degree heat and which also
crosses over a freeway. The exhaust fumes from the cars on the freeway didn't help my climb.
Nor did the freeway lend itself as an appropriate backdrop to the Great Wall.
In my past experience, the Great Wall entrances are remote places
and you can see the Wall traverse into the horizon
over several mountain ranges (note the plural).
From this entrance to the Wall, we didn`t see that at all.
The Wall went up one side of a hill (note the singular) and
and came back down on the same hill! That was it.
I walked up about 2/3s of this small section before I decided it wasn`t worth it and came back down.
My tour group thought it was great, but then they didn't know what
they were missing.
I asked Steve, our tour guide, why the change for the Great Wall itinerary and
did not get a satisfactory answer.
This also was kind of disappointing. We just walked up the path
to the Ming Tombs. We didn`t go down into a tomb or
see the artifact museum. My tour group liked it but, again, they didn`t
know what they were missing. One thing the Chinese Government did to improve
the environment was to plant grass, bushes and willow trees.
It made the path a nice walkway but that's all it was.
It started to rain while we were walking. Of course, I didn`t
bring my rain jacket and I left my hat in the minibus.
It`s OK though. It`s summer rain in Beijing. It was a light
The ride to dinner restaurant was supposed to take 1 hour and 15 minutes.
We were stuck in traffic for more than an hour because there were 3 separate
accidents along the freeway. Because of the delay, we decided to see the acrobat
show first and then have dinner at the local McDonalds(!)
The acrobat show was good. It wasn't great and I certainly don't think this is
the best show Beijing has to offer (this is according to Steve).
There were two glaring mistakes during the
show. And while I can look past one mistake in a professional show, I can't
forgive two mistakes.
We were not allowed to take pictures or video the show so I don't
have many photos of this event.
The tour bus picked us up from the show theater and dropped us off at the
MacDonalds across the street from the hotel. A weird thing happened there.
I was trying to take a picture of the menus at the counter and was stopped
by at least two employees! I could not take a picture inside MacDonalds at Beijing!
They couldn't offer an explanation because their lack of English but the
message was clear.
I was able to take a picture of the menus inside a Kentucky Fried Chicken at Hangzhou
and the KFC people didn't say a word to me. What's so private about MacDonalds?
We are going to pack our things by 11am and check out of the hotel by 11:30am.
Our tour bus will drop us off to our FISM hotels! Yay!