Tuesday, September 1, 2009

China Family Trip - Beijing Day 4 and 5

We're waiting for our flight from Beijing to Chengdu. Since I had my United/Star Alliance card, they let me into the Air China lounge. I'm at a small one near gate C52; it only has some couches and a snack bar. The lady at the counter wanted me to go to the main one since it had more stuff but our flight leaves at a nearby gate.


Yesterday was the tour of Mutianyu Great Wall and Ming Tombs. I reserved a tour online which offered an English speaking guide. The guide went to the wrong hotel in the morning so we started a bit late. His English was pretty bad so we asked him to stick with Chinese and we'll translate highlights for Rebecca. I think I made the right choice going with a Monday tour; both places were pretty empty, especially Mutianyu. The guide said normally the parking lot is full of cars but we got to park right near the entrance.

Entrance to the Ming Tombs. We switch the schedule so we visited the tombs in the morning. There are 13 Ming Dynasty emperors buried here.

Long walkway with a bunch of stone animal and people statues. Some of the animals were lying prone but the sign said "porne." We weren't sure what to expect.

A museum hall at the entrance of the tombs. It has some pretty cool displays but we didn't get to see any dead guys. I visited some "Ming Tombs" 11 years ago on my first trip to Beijing and remember going underground to see some rooms. This tour was very different.

After lunch, we went to the Mutianyu Great Wall. The tour guide brought us to a "Friendship Store" for lunch but we didn't buy anything. I think he was not expecting us to buy anything so we left right after lunch. BTW, we found some yarn/thread in one of the vegetable dishes and told one of the wait staff. A manager came by all freaked out and offered us some gifts in return. We ended up getting some free water. I think the store is for foreigners and they were worried about too many complaints.

We took the tram up to the upper section of the wall. I didn't feel like climbing that much.

Great Wall at the top of the tram

More wall looking north

There were people taking photos on the wall. I couldn't tell whether is was a wedding photo shoot or for a commercial/ad.

More GW looking down the hill back towards the entrance.

Sign at the tram. I like item II.2 the best: no insane people, please. Item II.3 also excludes people who have "habitual abortion", whatever that means.

We left the wall at around 3:30pm and didn't get back to our hotel until 5:30pm. There was a lot of traffic when we got back to town. I think everyone was tired so we all took a nap before dinner.

My sister and Rebecca had to catch a 9am flight to Lhasa (via Chengdu it turned out) so they left early. The rest of us checked out, stored our bags with the hotel, and took a taxi for some final sightseeing. We went to the drum tower first then to Houhai.

Clock tower. A tour guide told us that it still rings at noon everyday.

Drum tower. I think there was a stabbing here last year during the Olympics and the Chinese killer jumped to his death.

Nuage restaurant. I was here last year and it was one of the worst (food and prices) places I've ever eaten at. Didn't know what it looked like during the day.

While we were at the drum tower, some people offered us a 20 minute rickshaw ride for ¥120 (2 people). Instead, we walked to Houhai and found this guy in an electric golf cart who drove us around the lake and surrounding houtong for ¥20 per person. There are a lot of nice houses/compounds.

This used to be where Soong Ching-ling lived. She was the wife of Sun Yat-sen, recognized as the father of modern China. Her sister, Soong Mei-ling, married Chiang Kai-shek, the guy who lost the Chinese civil war to Mao.

Rental boats on Houhai. I think all the "seas" are linked from Zhonghai all the way through Beihai to Xihai, which is past Houhai.

Air China mini-lounge. I stole a few cans of soda since that was all they had.

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