Friday, November 7, 2008

Days 3-4

The past 2 days have been so busy that I haven't had a chance to get back on and post. I can't even remember where I left off! We have now left Beijing and are in the old capital city of Xi'an, home of the Terra Cotta Warriors.

Day 3
We only had a 1/2 day of touring with the rest of the day and evening free. In the morning, we went to the Hutong for a tour of what Chinese living used to be like in Beijing. With all of the development in the city, there are only 2 hutongs left. This hutong houses about 30,000 people and is a quiet, almost suburb-like living. Hutong means small alleys and that's just what it is made up of. Some "streets" can't even take cars they are that small.

At the hutong, we hopped onto Rickshaws (what fun!) and headed off to a local kindergarten to see how the kids learn. OMG, they were so cute! Afterwards, we took our rickshaws to a local woman's home to see how folks in the hutong live and to ask questions. This woman doesn't work but hosts tour groups. Her husband, son and brother are all artisits that make beautiful caligraphy scrolls. Of course, I had to buy one. :-)

Afterwards, we went to what used to be the Prince's garden and watched a tea ceremony. It was very interesting, but of course they were trying to sell their products and I really wasn't interested.

Once our hutong tour was over, we had the rest of the day free. Some folks went to the zoo to see the pandas (they're in China, why not see pandas), some went to the Lama Temple, while others, including me, went to buy pearls! Mind you, I did not go for the expensive cultured pearls that would cost more than my rent. Instead, I went for the kind that were fun. I'm not a huge pearl person, so this worked for me. I went to Jin Na's on the recommendation of Janet's friend and went to town. I had orders I had to fill, things for myself, as well as a gift or two to purchase. In the end, I also left with 2 free 34" strands of white pearls and a floating pearl necklace.

pearls to choose from
women stringing the pearls i purchased
posing with JiNa

That night, we went back to the hutong for dinner, after having some issues w/ cab drivers that had no clue how to get there. Dinner was at the Li Family Restaurant, highly recommended by all the guidebooks and on the list of 1000 Places to See Before You Die. 10 of us went to dinner and it was so worth it! Great, local authentic food and great company! We had planned to go to the night market in Beijing, but dinner went to long and we missed it. Basically, the night market consisted of the pictures I posted before the trip. No big deal if I missed it.

Day 4
Our last day in Beijing. Today we went to the Summer Palace, which is a beautiful extensive palace on a lake in the northwest of Beijing. Very beautiful. It's also in the Guiness Book of World Records for the longest corridor. I'll show you pictures, but I didn't quite understand it at first. It's an outdoor corridor, with thousands of painted pictures along it. Very beautiful.

Afterwards, we saw how pearls are cultivated and then were sent to shop in a government-owned pearl market. Deals weren't the same, but I did see a drop pendant that I liked and would never see again. That means I bought it!

In the afternoon, we flew to Xi'an. Last night, we went to a Tang Dynasty perfomance. The costumes were beautiful. The music was a bit high and did not help the headache I had. It also didn't help that we were up at 6 that morning and were utterly exhausted by the end.

Today, we are off to see the Wild Goose Pagoda and the Terra Cotta Warriors, with a dumpling banquet in the evening. More to post later.

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