Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sept.22-23 - Beijing

As our time in Beijing grew short we found ourselves in a whirlwind of tours & sightseeing, trying to get everything into the remaining days. A highlight was the Great Wall. The escape from the city into the clear air of the mountains was overdue and the wall was truly impressive. We went to an area (Simatai) where the wall was still in it's original state; a bit more run down but perhaps more scenic and definitely less crowded. The wall here was very steep so we did a lot of hiking up and down stairs after taking the cable car part way up. A highlight was the zip line we took over the lake to get back down. Standing on the platform at the top looking down turned out to be the scariest part as the ride down was quite pleasant although a bit crowded as they insisted we ride down strapped together.
We used our last day in Beijing to visit the Olympic sites, however could not get within 100 meters of any of the buildings. Security was very tight and the buildings won't open for public visits until after we leave Beijing. So we had to settle for pictures of the Birds Nest through the security fences. We also visited the touristy area (Wangfujing St.) around Tian'anmen Square where there was shopping and the must-visit food market (Donghuamen Night Market). Local vendors set up booths on the street and cook-to-order all kinds of soups, noodles, and various meat & seafood skewers. Andrew tried the snake and I, less adventurous, stuck to the pork and beef. We took a pass on the sheep balls, cow tongue, silkworms, scorpions, and dog meat stew! Pretty much anything that moved was available on a stick and apparently it all tastes like fried grease.

[editors note: added link to photo slideshow - Oct.10]

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