This is going to be the first of MANY MANY China posts, so here goes!
Our first 'out of town' trip from Shanghai was to fly to Beijing! My Dad's furniture friend, Echo, set it up for us! She sent her assistant Helen to come with us and be our 'tour guides' even though she hadn't ever been either! But she and her husband at least spoke Chinese, so getting around with them was MUCH easier :)
I thought that the whole feel of Beijing was very different from Shanghai. People in China say that Beijing is where the academic and scholars live, and that Shanghai is for all of the business people. But big difference I would say.
The day we arrived it was raining so we switched up some of our travel plans and went knock off shopping first since it was inside. This was our first experience with it and this is where Zack fell in love with it. Here is a picture of all of our 'goods'.
Since our tour guides (Helen and her husband Ronnie) were Chinese we loved going to eat with them since they exposed us to what REAL Chinese food was and we had some really good and at times not so good food. The first night they took us to a famous hot pot restaurant and we had lamb- man it was the whole lamb!! Here is a pic of the restaurant and the dinner.
The next morning we got up bright and early to drive to the Great Wall! It still is about a 2 hour drive from the city center of Beijing to the wall. When we got there it was a beautiful day and cool in the morning- I'm so glad we went early, for our hike STRAIGHT up the mountain to get to the wall. Since the wall stretches so many miles across China, there are lots of different parts you can go see, we went to Mutianyu.
It was SO COOL to be walking on the Great Wall! China has such an old history, it is amazing to see the wall stretch for miles and miles. Helen and Ronnie told us that the 'cement' they used to put together the bricks for the wall is actually ground up rice. It gets really sticky and can be used as a paste! That rice has been doing a great job for thousands of years. The stairs all around it are all uneven and it is just incredible to stand in the watch towers and try to imagine old China. It was a huge highlight for me to be there. We loved it!
The next day, we went to all the Olympic venues! If we had only been a year earlier....
We got to see the Birds Nest and the Water Cube. The architecture on those buildings is so neat! When you are there you see how close many of the venues were. The Birds Nest, Water Cube, and the Gymnasium are all about a minute away from each other.
While in Beijing we OF COURSE had to visit the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Summer Palace. Of the 3, I would say I liked the Summer Palace the most! It is HUGE and I was just trying to imagine it with all the royal family years ago. I loved the huge lake at the summer palace and the pagodas and bridges. It was really fun. The paintings and carvings in the buildings is just how you picture China to be. Forbidden City was enormous and so ornate with all the detailed ceilings, carvings and even the furniture there. We were so lucky to be able to see these things.
Last but not least- a few miscellaneous pictures from the trip:
What goes up must come down! We walked up to the great wall but instead of walking down they had an alpine slide! We cruised on down and then got our picture with these lovely guys at the bottom. Very fun!
Thats all folks!! If you made it to this point- congrats!