Thursday, May 22, 2008

Guest Blog #5.5 - Mark's Parents

From the lost e-mails, another guest post from my parents (and this time including photos):

First full day in Beijing:

The best fact about life in Beijing: they retire at an early age so the younger people have jobs. Our tour guides parents are 47 & 48 and are retired. I LIKE this rule!!!

Gas is only $1.00 but parking is very expensive since there is so little of it; city was built for bicycles, not cars.

In preparation for the Olympics, the city is beautifying itself with plants. They have planted 2.4 million trees yearly since 2003.

But the best part of the day was the Great Wall at the Mutianyu section. I had to keep pinching myself that I was really here. The hike up to the cable car was somewhat steep but not steep compared to if we had hiked all the way up to the beginning part of the wall here. The driver called our guide at 1 PM to ask where we were-we were taking too long. In conversation later, she said that most people are only there 1 1/2 hours; we were there a total of 3.

We just kept taking pictures, climbing, taking pictures, climbing, taking pictures. . . . but never boring. It was SO beautiful. Words can not describe it. . . . awesome, phenomenal. . . . these words do not do it justice.

We will do the Badaling section on Friday but she agreed with what we had read. . . it is busier with more tourists, and pictures will always have other people in them. Also the vendors are very pushy at Badaling.

We stopped for a late lunch of Chinese and Dad actually ate the most of any of the Chinese meals so far, not counting the one at Temptations. Of course he may have been starving after the climb. He said the chicken with peanuts and a pork dish were very good. She will write down their names for us. We also did another tea ceremony where the different tea benefits were explained. We purchased the tea for longevity; also I enjoyed it the most; Dad only tried the 1st one.

Our guide Amy asked how long we have been married. . . 37 years. . . . wow, thought maybe we were newlyweds. We are different from other couples she has had (you knew that, but she said she meant different in a good way!).

After the lunch we took an optional tour of a ride on a rickshaw through the older neighborhoods behind the Forbidden City. Most have been torn down with the Olympic planning but this section is being preserved as an historic site. We went into a family's courtyard, the life style of the courtyard (old and now) was explained, and we could take pictures of the different rooms. The families who agree to open their homes do receive some monies.

The rickshaw took us through the Hou Hai section where the night life is active with the young people and tourists. We could picture the 2 of you having a beer here, taking pictures, and putting your stories into the blog.

We returned to the hotel, sat at the bar for a soda and beer, relaxed, Charlie had cheesecake, and then we retired to the room. Laundry to do now, then to bed, because we have a very busy day tomorrow.

P.S. The tap water at this first class hotel is not potable

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