The day started at Beijing Zoo where we saw the pandas, and nothing else. They were eating and so were moving. But other than that they pretty much just sleep. Fair play to them, if I had that much fur in this heat I’m not sure I’d move much. And they are massive and fluffy and cute, even if not so much black and white as black and cream.
Just after we entered the grounds of the summer palace we found a whole group of people doing calligraphy on the floor in water. They apparently do this as exercise to improve the flexibility, control and strength in their arms and wrists.
The Summer Palace has the longest corridor in the world it is: 780m; outside and beautifully painted.
It also is 75% lake, completely artificial with the earth used to make the hills, we crossed the lake on one of the huge dragon boats. Rather than the vast marble one that the Dragon Lady used to use.
On the way back from the Summer Palace we doubled up in the wheelchair as someone else was broken too! Luckily she was only small and there weren’t any steps and there was nothing to see ☺️
It unfortunate that the Temple of Heaven is built in the Ming Dynasty. It means that they keep telling us that things are “most beautiful, it Ming.” We visited the ‘Hall of prayer for the good harvest,’ where the emperor visited twice a year at the solstice. It’s massive and very round decorated in: yellow, for earth; blue, for heaven and green, for the mortal world.
It has 27 steps, not sigificant, or 3 lots of 9, very significant,m powerful and lucky. As well as 12 pillars for the 12 months and animals of the years.
The Huns started it with stone, the Mings finished it with brick. But which ever way you look at it its massive! It’s on a crazy steep mountain and then just goes up, and stretches for ever in both directions. It’s nice to see how many of the locals The Great Wall, there was even a couple taking their wedding pictures!
We then went to a jade place, it was basically a glorified shop where they tried to sell you stuff. Though they did cover it as an explanation of how you carve the jade. The family ball is kind of cool, it’s 5 balls all carved one inside the other.
While heading to the market we experienced Beijing traffic, there is no problem in moving straight from the inside lane on a 4 lane roundabout to a 2 lane exit, nor apparently driving perpendicular to the flow of traffic!
The market was an odd, pointless sort of a place. Full of shops that you wouldn’t touch with a barge pole back home all of whom expected you to barter. They sold everything from ‘silk’ suits made to order to three entire shops dedicated to hello kitty.
The lifts are unhelpful. In the UK we have the ground floor as 0 and so you can teach positive and negative numbers using floors, not so here. Here they go straight from -1 to 1, most unhelpful.
We started the day at Tian’an men Square. There was much talk about the size, gates, museum and the national theatre but nothing about what we know it for. We were show Chairman Mao’s monument and the monument to the fallen Heroes dates and anniversarys of everything except the deaths, I’m curious as to wether it’s a shame thing or they just don’t know and it’s been edited out of their history.
Then we went to the national museum. And it was much like any museum anywhere in the world. Then on to the forbidden city, which is initially really impressive, but becomes a lot of yellow roofs and steps. Key things we learnt were male lions have balls and female ones have babies, and that’s the only way to know!
The tall cup is the smelling cup the short fat one is the tasting cup. You have to make a tea mushroom to improve the flavour. Oolong tea is best for digestion and only used to be for the emperor. Then jasmine green tea, which properly smells like flowers and is used as a welcome tea. It’s used for cleaning the liver and eyes. The third tea was pure it’s a fermented tea, looks like chocolate and reduced fat in the body. It smells like popcorn and tastes like lawn mowings. The 4th one was lychee black tea with Rose flowers it was really sweet with no sugar in it. The last one was dried fruit with rose and hibiscus with no actual tea.
From here we went to a ‘local’ house where they had pretty birds and lots of stools, and then on to a rickshaw.
After dumping dinner we went to the Kung fu show.
It’s the little things; a mattress and pillow; a shower where you stay unsandy; a place to sleep that isn’t a sauna by morning. I love camping and the jamboree was great, but good hotel is amazing the night after camp!
We visited a budist temple know as the Lama temple. At the lama temple there was the biggest Buddha in the world at 27m high, made from a single tree. As we went around on of the buildings a very strange man waited till I was level with him then punched me in the right boob and ran off!
The Confusious temple was interesting, the concept of worship of a philosophy and sacrifice to a real person and commemoration of those who passed the highest exams is very different to the religious temples. The statues of Confusious are legion.
From here we headed to a park with a “mountain” (60m high) from which you could see the city. I was sensible so didn’t climb the mountain, I also learnt the hospital was right when it said the drugs they injected would last 3 days! There were groups playing ‘catch’ with a shuttlecock by kicking it up.
We then headed off to the silk factory. The little cocoons have 1300 m of silk strand in each one, but they are unrolled in groups of 8 so they don’t snap, they kind of bobble in the water as they are unwound.
Dinner was Peking Duck, traditionally these are force fed in a similar way to fois gras and only live to 30 days, but are really soft and yummy. We had a massive dinner, no idea what most of it was, but even the tofu was ok and the rest was lovely.
We then pottered in the market, looking at dead and in the case of the scorpions live and wiggly things on sticks.
After minimal sleep and a beautiful sunrise we were up and ready for the 5.40 bus.
The UK bags streaming across the car park. Back as a contingent again in stark contrast to the last few days. People start the jamboree in match contingent kit, but buy the end it’s perfectly normal to see someone in a Hong Kong shirt, UK hat, Australian neckerchief and Mexican bag only to find out the are American! You arrive as a single nationality but leave as part of something bigger.
The bus ride was a very long nap, appreciated after a night of no sleep. The bus driver gave me a Japanese doughnut, we think it was as an apology after he tried to give my chair away!
But mostly the day was spent asleep on a coach. Then asleep on a plane.