This is day 5 of our trip, but we left home Monday morning and arrived here Tuesday night about 11:00 pm, so days one and two were spent in airports and on airplanes. We flew from Duluth to Minneapolis, to Detroit and then Beijing. I got some sleep on the plane, but what a long flight that was—13 hours, I think.
We are in the same hotel we stayed in last time we were here in 2006, but it has been remodeled, so the lobby and restaurants are all different. It is nice. We’ve made a “friend” here already. He’s from Georgia (USA) and was hired by the hotel to help out English-speaking guests. His first day on the job coincided with our first day here. He has become our personal waiter at breakfast bringing me yogurt, which wasn’t out and bringing us fresh coffee, when Jim complained that the coffee was terrible, which it was. The breakfast buffet here is huge and includes Asian and western breakfast foods.
We are about a mile from Tiananmen Square, so we walked down there our first morning and then went into the Imperial Palace, which used to be called the forbidden City, because only the Emperor and his entourage were allowed in it.
Here’s one picture:
It’s winter here with temperatures in the 30’s (F). So there aren’t as many tourists as there are when it is warmer, and most of them are Chinese. If you keep walking through or past the many ceremonial buildings, which look like the ones here, you come to the gardens and smaller buildings where the court actually lived. Nothing is in bloom now, so it is a bit drab, but I did like this lion. I heard a guide saying it was a baby lion. I don’t know how one could tell.
We walked out the northern gate and turned east towards our hotel again. On the way we walked through a sort of long garden walkway that we remembered from last time. Actually we took a picture of me sitting on this bench next to this bronze sculpture last time, so I said we should take another one. Link to the other page from 2006.
Yesterday we walked to the National Palace Museum. which is an art museum on Tiananmen square. Here is the front of it. It was built in 1959 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Cultural revolution.
Here’s an interior shot. This museum has a lot of open space in it.
And here is a picture of a jade vase in the museum. We looked at an exhibit of jade, one of Chinese porcelain and one of European art in the age of enlightenment.
Here is a shot I took out our hotel window. Our window faces the back of the hotel. There are some small shacks just below us and many large buildings beyond. The shopping malls we have visited are in that direction and the very large building on the right with the semi-circular towers is a very large and fancy hotel called the Legendale.
And here is a picture of the shopping street near here where we have spent some time. There are at least two big malls on this street. The malls have all kinds of shops, department stores, restaurants, food courts, etc.
We bought Jim a scarf there and eventually found some Kleenex. We also walked through a very crowded food alley where they were selling anything and everything cooked on a stick. Most of it I didn’t recognize. I should have tried to take pictures, but I didn’t want to do anything to attract attention. The vendors can at times be a bit annoying. However, they probably don’t have much luck selling seahorses or insects on a stick to foreigners, so perhaps they would have left us alone. Jim is doing some reading today and preparing for a meeting this afternoon, so he’s letting me use his computer. We don’t have wifi here, just ethernet, so I have to use his computer to get online.
I think that is it for today. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to update again at my sister’s in Kunming next week.