Beijing Day 1

April 18th, 2009, 8:12 am PDT by Greg

No update yesterday, since we had problems with the Internet in the hotel. but, it wasn’t an eventful day anyway: a quick walk along the West Lake in Hangzhou, and then a flight to Beijing.

In Beijing, we met our tour group: another couple a little older than us, and a woman and her (88 year old) father. We’ll have more to say about them as time goes on, I’m sure.

Today the tour started. As such, I think our updates are going to be less interesting: we pretty much went to the tourist attractions the tour went to and saw them.

First was the giant pandas at the Beijing Zoo. [KS: We saw two eating and two sleeping. They were really cute.] Then the Summer Palace. [KS: This is where the emperor and empress spent their summers. Apparently the emperor of the time was a figurehead, and the empress dowager, aka Dragon Lady, was the real head of state.]

Lunch was at a government Pearl Store/tourist trap. The pearls were cheap at least, so we bought some. [KS: Not all of the pearls were cheap – only the ones that we bought. :)]

After lunch, we went to the Temple of Heaven. The neat thing there was that it’s kind of a combo UNESCO world heritage site/community centre. The place was lined with seniors playing cards, groups singing, old people playing hacky sack, etc. It was kind of nice: it’s not just some museum; the place is actually used for something.

After dinner, the Peking Opera. This was… interesting. As you read the following descriptions, keep in mind that each act was 20 minutes of high-pitched singing and flouncing around the stage.

The first act consisted of a pantomime fight that was supposed to be in the dark: 20 minutes of two guys hilariously not being able to find each other in the “dark” but coming really close. It turns out the one guy was a general or something, so the other guy didn’t really want to kill him anyway.

The second act: some princess went for a hike. She met some people, but the didn’t really talk. The end.

The third act: some woman had to go and get herbs to heal her sick husband. The emperor didn’t want to give them to her, so she “fought” his guards then grabbed the herbs and ran off.

So, other than the opera, it was a good day. The tour stuff has a distinct “this is a place for tourists to go” feeling. That could wear thin pretty fast.

It was pretty overcast in Beijing today (“overcast” == “smoggy”?), so the pictures aren’t great, but I posted a few.

Update: we may not post tomorrow. Internet is expensive in this hotel.

One Response to “Beijing Day 1”

  1. Amanda Says:

    Thanks goodness for Kat’s additional commentary! I can visualize much better with the details. Must be a female thing 🙂