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Beijing City Tour

Saturday, May 30, 2009
WHAT A DAY! We had an extremely busy and very fun day today. It started with the visit to Tian’anmen Square. One interesting piece of information is the 20th Anniversary of the Tian’anmen Square protests that most of us are familiar with is on June 4th – boy am I old!!! Anyway, we learned lots of interesting things – our tour guide, Amanda, is AWESOME! (BTW, Amanda is her American name, she is Chinese and has never been to the US). First of all, she warned us not to say anything out of the ordinary (i.e. Free Tibet) while in Tian’anmen Square as there are undercover officers that could arrest you (I do think this was not entirely true). But we saw Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum – it was about a 1 hour wait to see his embalmed body (Amanda mentioned there are only 3 embalmed bodies in the world – Mao, Ho Chi Mihn and one other I can’t remember).
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We also learned that the 5-stars on the Chinese Flag represent:
1. The Big Star for the Communist Party
2. Workers
3. Farmers
4. Soldiers
5. And now I have forgot the 5th

Also there is an underground city under Beijing that was built in the late 1950’s as the relationship between the Chinese and the Soviets soured when Krushev took over the USSR. This city is essentially a bomb shelter that can house 1 million people. That is one big bomb shelter.

We also visited the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. These were very interesting and old places in Beijing that have important places in the city and country’s history. One of the most interesting things to me was at the Temple of Heaven there were 3 paved walkways/sidewalks. The middle walkway was for power, the left for health and the right for money. Whatever one was most important to you, you could walk on it for the gods to grant it to you. That may be a tough decision so you could do a zig-zag and walk on all three. That is what I did!!

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After a day of site-seeing (we walked close to 10 miles) we had a Peking Duck Dinner. YUMMY! This is a pretty traditional dinner in Beijing. After that we went out and had a pretty good time to a place called Kokomo. The cab ride home was quite the adventure as the cabbie did not know where the hotel was so he brought us all around the city. One of the people in the cab was a little annoyed but it was very difficult to communicate as we did not speak his language. Eventually we got back to the hotel. It was an experience!

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Tomorrow we drive to go see the Great Wall, the Summer Palace and possibly some of the Olympic venues (if there is time). The Great Wall is a 1.5 hour drive and we leave in 6 hours so I should probably get some sleep.

BTW - make sure you check out the Gallery section for some additional pictures!

Finally - the consensus among the group is that noone wants to leave Beijing. This is a very cool city and has lots to do and see.