Wednesday, August 30, 2017

China: Day Sixteen Parts 1 & 2 - Coming Home

On our last day in China, we woke up and enjoyed a late and leisurely breakfast at the magnificent buffet. Then we packed our bags, waited for our driver and went to the airport.

next to the giant screen in the lobby

Then we went through security (the pink women only line), shopped for a few souvenirs to take home, waited and got on the plane to go home. While waiting we met a young women who had been in China working at one of the orphanages started by Steven Curtis Chapman. 

The flight was long and relatively uneventful... sat next to a nice kid who teaches English in Thailand, ate some mediocre (at best) food, watched a few movies (The Zookeeper's Wife was excellent), and dozed off and on.

We took off at 4pm and landed at noon the same day in Seattle.

In order to help ward off jet lag, I stayed awake the rest of my second Thurday, July 20th by unpacking and doing laundry. Oh, and Chris took me out for supper. It was good to be home!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

China: Day Fifteen Part Three - The Forbidden City

At the far end of Tiananmen Square is the Forbidden City. It was given this name because no one was allowed to enter the city without permission from the emperor.

the courtyard where we bought our entrance tickets

It was by far the most crowded place we visited while in China. There were people everywhere!

The world's largest palace structure and home to 24 emperors, it was built in only 14 years from 1407-1420 by 1 million workers, including 100,000 artisans. It covers 178 acres, has 980 buildings, 90 palaces and courtyards, and 8,700 rooms.

Water was poured on the roads in winter in order the slide the giant stones in on ice. The 33' tall walls are made of lime and glutinous rice bricks cemented with glutinous rice mixed with egg whites. The wall is surrounded by a moat. 

The roofs are all yellow, the color of the royal family.

There was a lot to see...

These giant vats were placed everywhere and kept constantly full of water to use in case of a fire. In the winter, fires were lit underneath to keep the water from freezing...

My favorite part was the gardens. They were gorgeous!

Mountain of Accumulated Elegance

It had been a very long day and we were ready to go back...

Our “tour guide” had told us that all we needed to do was get a taxi back to our hotel. Easy as pie and only about 30-40 kuai. We couldn’t find any taxis that would stop or said it was too far or wanted 150 kuai. Then all kinds of people started approaching us and saying they could get us a driver to take us back to the hotel. One man in particular would not let us alone. He insisted that we would never get a taxi but that he had a car that would take us. His son was an Uber driver in a nice American car with air conditioning. We called our guide and she said we’d better just pay him 100 and let his son drive us. We said yes, he called his son and we waited. It just seemed like one of those very bad ideas. Turned out his son was very nice and did have a very nice Chrysler mini van. He even told us about some of the things we drove by on the way back in his rather broken English. "Do you understand?"  We tipped him even though you aren’t supposed to…

Sue and I swam, saunaed and showered again. Then we went to the bakery to pick up some treats for dessert, followed by dinner at the same place as the night before. Why mess with a good thing??? :)

Monday, August 28, 2017

China: Day Fifteen Part Two - Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square is the city square in the center of Beijing, named after the gate to the Forbidden City. Tiananmen means "Gate of Heavenly Peace."

The underground entrances to the square have airport type security and can change.

There are lots of people and lots to see in and around the square...

Including Mao's Mausoleum...

It is flanked by these two sculptures by the entrance...

The Monument to People's Heroes...

And Tiananmen  Tower. It was built in 1417 as the entrance to the Forbidden City. It was here that it was announced to the common people who their emperor and empress would be until 1911.

And it is still used as the entrance to the Forbidden City today...