OK, a delay in getting this going, so striving to catch up…
June 17 and 18 were jam-packed with amazing tourist experiences in and around Beijing. We were shepherded by Lee (Li), the Chinese guide who accompanied us throughout the entire trip. His English was very good, and as a native of Beijing he was extremely knowledgeable about all of the sites we visited. He also shared fascinating insights into the Chinese perspective on history, traditions, social change, education, and life in general.
On the first morning we visited Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. A few shots of these:
In the afternoon we visited a silk workshop, and then did some shopping at a large indoor market of vendors selling all sorts of gifts and souvenirs. We capped off our first full day in China with a Beijing duck dinner.
Next morning the bus took us outside the city to a section of the Great Wall. A chair lift took us partway up; after that we had to climb a LOT of stairs to get to the highest watchtower. Such iconic views!
Going back down was unexpectedly exciting because we had the option of taking individual toboggans instead of the chair lift. Here’s a tourist shot they took on my way down:
After lunch we explored the Summer Palace, which is actually a garden (the name in Chinese translates to “summer garden”) and Houhai Lake — both beautiful.
In the evening we walked through some hutongs, alleys that wind through old, traditional-style neighborhoods. I was strongly reminded of neighborhoods in Latin America, where each house is surrounded by walls and has a courtyard in the center. Walking by we could occasionally glimpse through an open door to see home interiors, each its own little world. I didn’t take photos because it felt like it would be an invasion of privacy.
Day 3 wrapped up with a dinner at a private home in the hutong area, followed by a night-time walk through a shopping district.
The following day was our first school visit, which I’ll discuss in detail in the next post, since learning about schools was the meat of this trip.