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Beijing, Day 3

Beijing, China


The day started out with an intense ambition. We had three main attractions to visit: The Great Wall, The Summer Palace and Tian An Men Square, in that order.

The Great Wall featured, of course, lots of steps. Most at a severe incline. It's probably one of the most international tourist sites in the world. I heard at least 10 different languages spoken on the hike up. Where most people climb the great wall and some even skate it, for Robert it was just another obstacle to jump over in order to find plants. And find them he did. He came back with plastic bags of not t-shirts but of plants to show us on the bus. Mao said your not a hero until you climb the great wall... I wonder what he thought about teachers who jump it. There was a nice hook on the ride to the wall, yet again by our tour guide. We took a short detour to see a jade factory, which of course had a massive jade store attached. We all protested before going in, but yet again, most people ended up buying something (perhaps there's subliminal messaging in these places). The hook worked.

The next stop was the Summer Palace which is a good drive back from the wall. The palace is one of the largest parks in all of China and was the vacation spot for the later dynasties. The gardens and lake were a welcome haven for us, although we had to rush through it in order to fit all of the days activities. Where there is Yin there is Yang... to contrast the peace of the garden, just outside was an alley back to the bus, which we've nicknamed "swindler alley." Not only was the long alley loaded with poor merchants hounding us to buy their t-shirt knock-offs and cheap crafts, they were ready to scam the tourists. After some tour members put up a good job haggeling down the price of some goods, they found their change back to be counterfeit bills... So it is possible to get Shanghaied in Beijing.

After dinner we got to walk a few minutes around Tian An Men Square, which was lit up at night and preparing for the upcoming Mid-Autum Festival (moon cake festival).

After the square we drove to the massive Beijing train station to get aboard our sleeper train to Luoyang. Upon entering there was a huge crowd outside waiting to get in and watching someone get detained by the police. After a bout of abuse, about 5 red guards handcuffed the guy and took him away. Then we had to deal with the bottlenecking and the thousands of people laying around or rushing to get on their train. While we were all excited to hop into our soft sleeper cabin on the train, we quickly realized that after a day of hiking around without a shower, the tight quarters weren't as pleasant as we thought, especially after we took our shoes off...



permalink written by  Benjamin Satterfield on September 16, 2005 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China Tour Fall 2005
tagged China, Beijing, TheGreatWall, SummerPalace, TianAnMenSquare, Jade, Theft, MoonCakeFestival, Autumn, Festival, RedGuard, Luoyang and SleeperTrain

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Benjamin Satterfield Benjamin Satterfield
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