Cord Houle: Beijing Day 2
Day two like day one started out at 6:30 again. Our tour guide Lisa is wearing us out, at night we don’t even have the energy to go out! Well I did my normal routine and headed for breakfast. Breakfast was great, and today they even had cold milk and cold water for us. Unlike Americans, who enjoy cold breakfast, Chinese people only like Hot Breakfast and don’t really east cereal and milk. We started out by going to the summer Palace, where we saw the summer retreat for the emperor. This place was massive, much larger that the Forbidden City and included a lake. This was like a beautiful park within Beijing. There was a lot of greenery and the smog levels for the day were quite low. We were told not to talk to any vendors because last year a man was punched by a vendor for not buying his goods. This didn’t surprise me much as many of the vendors will follow you and do anything to get your attention. The vendors are not like street vendors in America, they are much more abrasive and much more persistent.
We decided to climb the Tower of Buddhist Incense, a large tower overlooking the lake. The climb was treacherous, and required us to scale many stares passing huge statues of Buddhist deities along the way. When we finally made it to the top however, awaiting us was a giant statue of Buddha himself as well as an ice-cream vendor. So after admiring the statue and the amazing view I treated myself to a Popsicle. The ice-cream was a little different than the stuff from back home; they had flavors such as pure sugar and pea’s. Weary from my climb I opted for the one with cherries on the wrapper. Opening it I was happy to find out the Popsicle was indeed cherry and quite delicious.
After that we visited another market, a tech market, where yet again I was accosted by all types of vendors trying to sell me every electronic conceivable. The vendors were as abrasive as the vendors at the summer palace; they would form walls to herd you into their stores. I am convinced that when I leave china I will be able to ignore anyone. While very abrasive I do enjoy the markets a lot, you just need to know what you’re looking for before entering as perusing the goods is a sure way to get endlessly solicited. From here we had lunch, again it was great! There was even live entertainment, including people dancing and singing.
After lunch we visited the Birds Nest and Water Cube from the 2008 Olympics’. The birds nest was teaming with people, however most stayed out of where the sun was shining through as it was an exceptionally hot day. Deciding that being here was a once and a lifetime opportunity, we broke out the Frisbee and took up the half of the huge arena that was empty to toss it around. While we had the eyes of easily a couple thousand people on us we did not get too many people that wanted to join in. only a couple people were brave enough to toss the disk around. It seems that Chinese are a little more reserved than we are and preferred not to draw the attention of an entire arena upon them if they can avoid it. This once and a lifetime opportunity to play Frisbee in the Birds Nest was easily the highlight of the day, and it also showed some divide between the two cultures.
After Frisbee we went to a state run teahouse and silk museum where we got enlightened as to the nature of Chinese traditions and history. It is easy to see how proud China is of their history and how much they love to share that history with others. After that we wrapped up the day with some dinner at a neighborhood restaurant where for the first time since we got to China, our meal didn’t end with fruit.
more pictures soon!