こんばんは。This evening after dinner, we strolled down the promenade from our hotel to the Great Wild Goose Pagoda. The wide walkway is very nice in the daytime, with statues and other cool things to look at, but at night it transforms into a huge party, with music performances, shopping, dancing, beauty shows, etc. It is pretty amazing! The colors and energy are intense.
One thing that I noticed that I like doing is taking photos of people enjoying themselves. I guess it is kind of a street photography style? I don’t know, but taking photos of people taking photos and selfies is so meta. Please take a look at some of the images:
Today was one of the highlights of our trip to China: seeing the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an. Pit #1 was absolutely stunning. As you can see in the photo at the top of the post, the actual structure is huge! To see the large army of individual statues lined up was breathtaking.
Our tour guide explained about the discovery of the army, the restoration, the in the statues, etc. It was fascinating to also learn that the wooden parts had all disappeared because of the decomposition due to the soil. All that is left was the terracotta, which was fired in a kiln, and the metal parts of the weaponry such as the blades and arrowheads.
In other parts of the exhibit, we saw figures in various states of restoration, from discovery to completion. It seems like such painstaking work, and it looked like there is a ton to be uncovered still. I can imagine that it could be a dream come true to be able to work on the restoration if you were in that field.
After viewing the Terracotta Army, we went to a terracotta workshop, where we watched a short demonstration on how terracotta is made, and then, of course, there’s a huge shop for you to purchase souvenirs. We also enjoyed a buffet lunch, of which the best dish was the fresh noodle bowl. It was fun to watch the chef create the noodles right in front of you. And the taste was delicious! Couple that with the local beer, and I didn’t really need anything else from the buffet table. 😀
We returned to the hotel in the early afternoon and had a few hours to spare before dinner so we took a walk to the nearby mall. Normally, I don’t like to go to malls, but I find malls in unfamiliar countries to be fascinating. Things are familiar, but always with a local twist. And of course, I love the local ads:
I don’t know exactly what is being advertised, but it’s so cool to see the everyday local flavor.
I took the following photo of Chinese-labeled Kewpie and sent it to Mariko. She told me she didn’t need me to buy any souvenirs from the trip, but after seeing the photo she gave me my marching orders to pick up some Kewpie and also some local stir-fry seasoning packs. I’ll see if I can find some in Shanghai before the trip is over.
It was a great day in Xi’an, and the evening activities are still to come! But I’ll end the daytime part with a couple more photos:
Today was our last day in Beijing, but before we left for Xi’an, we visited a Hutong, or old neighborhood, and visited a world-renowned artist who paints the inside of glass objects. It was amazing to see how she uses a curved brush to apply the paint so delicately and precisely.
Next, we traveled by rickshaw to the Bell Tower (钟楼) for a tea-tasting. We tried five different kinds of tea, and then had the opportunity to buy the tea, of course. It was fun and delicious!
After the Hutong tour, it was time to head for the airport and catch the flight to Xi’an. And that is where I’ll end today’s update.
Today our tour took us to the Badaling section of the Great Wall. 30 years ago when I visited, I believe we came to the same section, but we started at the main parking area. This time our tour group took the tram up to the top, and from there we were able to hike along the wall. We first completed the easy section to the end, then turned around and went for a bit on the hard section. It was significantly more difficult because of the steepness of some of the sections, but my brothers and I did well.
It was pretty amazing to be up on the Great Wall even if it is a big tourist destination.
I thought these instructions at the front of the escalator were pretty funny.
And I always enjoy looking at the ice cream freezers when they have a photo of a beautiful woman on it!
After our visit to the Great Wall, we went to the Jade factory/market and received some “education” on the tradition of Chinese jade, the meaning behind it, the types of stone, and the quality differences. After the short lesson, we were provided with a pretty huge lunch with plenty of beer, wine, and a super-potent liquor. I sure this was in order to loosen up everyone’s purse strings before shopping in the jade market. 😆
After that, we checked out the park at the entrance to the Ming Tombs, then drove through the 2008 Olympic area and saw the “Bird’s Nest” stadium, and the “Water Cube” from the bus, before returning back to the hotel.
Since we had a couple hours before dinner I did a little shopping at my favorite two stores: Uniqlo and Muji. I didn’t buy anything, but I always enjoy browsing those two!
And to conclude the day, we went to a restaurant for Peking Duck, where we stuffed ourselves and drank a bit too much! The food was yummy and the company was hilarious. It was a good time, for sure!
I hope you had a great day! Tomorrow there’s a morning tour and then we fly to Xi’an for the next leg of our journey, so I need to rest.
Well, it was a long, fun day today. To finish up, 6 of us from our tour group attended a Kung Fu show at the Red Theater. The martial arts were for the most part pretty good, especially the acrobatic moves and poses. I didn’t care too much for the feats of strength and breaking of “staffs” since it seemed like the wood wasn’t very strong to begin with. Also, the story got a little slow at parts, and combined with jetlag, we struggled to stay awake. I think all of us nodded off for bits here n there. 😴
But regardless of that, I’m glad we chose to see this optional excursion. And we even got a souvenir DVD to relive the experience. 😆
This morning I woke up extra-early due to jetlag and decided to go for a run. At 6 am, the streets of central Beijing were surprisingly empty. In fact, I could pretty much run in the middle of the streets if I wanted to! I guess most of the people were beginning their commutes outside of the city, so it wouldn’t get busy until they arrived.
Since I don’t know the city at all, I just ran with Google Maps on and I looked for interesting places and parks, which led me to the Temple of the Sun. It’s a cool little park which has a beautiful pond and other points of interest and is also very popular with runners and walkers. So I was totally at home running (more like jogging), walking, and stopping to take photos.
You know, I try to run in new places, like when I visited Stockholm for business. Running can get you to places really quickly, and since you can stop at any time to take in the sights, it’s a great way to get familiar with a new city. Especially if you can do it early in the morning. 😀