Day 9, we went to the emperor’s summer palace. I actually enjoyed this place because it’s not like the the other palaces I’ve been to. The summer palace was built into the side of a mountain so there’s rock everywhere. Afterward, we went back into town only to find it pissing rain. We took shelter in a shopping mall and ate in some Taiwanese noodle joint. We stopped by a bakery in the mall for some snacks for the next day before we went back to the condo. We needed the buns because the next day was another travel day. We were on our way back to Shanghai for Expo 2010!
Day 7 – We took the super fast train from Beijing to Tianjin for some shopping. In 2008, this train set the world record for conventional trains at 350km/h. When I was riding it, the train topped out at 329km/h. If this is just a conventional train on wheels, I can only imagine what the new Maglev line can do when it’s completed. I think this was the first day where we didn’t go see any ancient sites, they were really all starting to look the same. Some palace, temple, etc… always built on top of a crazy number of stairs.
Once again, the weather was hot and humid. Difficult to breath when the humidity is near 100% but at least it rained today. That kinda made things better.
We had some mcdonalds, it tasted different but somehow better. Maybe because China doesn’t have genetically modified cows, they’re kinda more natural. After the shopping, we took the train back to Beijing and went to check out the site of the 2008 Summer Olympics. The buildings looked amazing but sadly, they’re not really being utilized and they’re just rusting away. After that, we went for some fancy hotpot with Kobe beef and walked back to the condo in the rain… wet wet rain…
Day 5 – After a decent night sleep in the expensive condo that my dad’s friend was kind enough to let us use, we decided to go out to Tienanmen square. We took a cab to the subway station. One observation.. it’s so freakin hot and humid, how are the locals wearing dress pants and button up shirts? Some are even wearing jackets!
We didn’t go into the Forbidden City today (it’s behind the red wall). We walked around the main gathering ground on Tienanmen square and walked a few blocks to the Beijing Opera House. After seeing the buildings, I realized that the Chinese don’t build anything small. The modern buildings are massively huge. It has to be to fit that many people in there. The opera house was shaped like half an egg with water around it so that with the reflection, it looks like a whole egg. Inside had some interesting architecture, some costumes that was used in plays and a small museum of stringed instruments. After seeing the opera house, we went across the street for a lunch of noodles and dumplings. After that, we went to another ancient site with several short round pagodas and then we went shopping.
Dinner was duck… Peking duck in Peking (Peking = Beijing). Remember how I said everything was built big in China? This restaurant was famous for it’s Peking duck and it was 7 floors… After dinner, we went for a stroll at a street market that served street food on sticks. Most of the stuff was labeled but I wasn’t hungry enough to try it, especially after a dinner of duck… At the street market, we bumped into a camera crew from the BBC shooting a documentary, I had a nice conversation with a pretty British woman about Jeremy Clarkson. She said he was a bumbling idiot… lol Sadly, he wasn’t around… that would’ve been great… bumping into Jeremy Clarkson while on vacation in Beijing.
Not much today… it was mostly a travel day. We made our way from Xi’an to Beijing. Beijing International Airport boasts the second largest terminal in the world behind Dubai. My dad has a friend in Beijing and he was kind enough to let us stay in his condo. This friend of his is a big cheese, he builds gated communities just outside the city. He brought us to one of these communities that he actually lives in and showed us around his home, the showroom, etc… After that, we went to have dinner and back to the condo.