4/5/1999 8:30pm Monday – Beijing China Wow, where to begin….
I arose at seven in the morning and met Du Wei Min at 9:00am to begin the day. We were dropped off as close to the Forbidden City as our driver could get. Gee what a life, my own private tour guide and driver? This is special…We walked by Tiananmen Square and onto the Forbidden City. It’s hard to imagine how old all of this is! I wish just for a minute I was a fly on the wall back then to see how it was. I tried to imagine what it would be like hundreds of thousands of years ago. We saw the stage where the Peking Opera was, and I saw a pair of high heeled shoes like Madonna wears in her Video at the Grammys, that was cool. We walked all over, and Du explained everything about the history. I was most impressed with the Foo Dogs and have been looking everywhere to get the ones I’d like to bring home. Much talk of the concubines all over, their beds, their tombs, and their jewelry. The buildings and structure were amazing. Everything balanced, very Yin/Yang, very much Feng Shui.
After the Forbidden City we drove to get lunch at a restaurant famous for tourists to visit, which I was, when Du set me up at the table and then went to leave, I asked him to stay and eat with me. He said he was eating with the driver and other tour guides. I wanted to talk to him more to get to know him and his culture…and I didn’t want to eat alone again. I’m not that kind of tourist…I was there for the enrichment of the people and culture as much as the sights. The food was authentic Chinese and very good. My favorite is the jasmine tea. The meal was pickled cabbage and ham, then this item like a sweet roll with chicken and peppers and onions with green leafy cabbage…My first of TONS of Bok Choy on this trip. Then came rice and pork with vegetables in a spicy sauce along with a pickled cabbage soup, not much flavor for me, it was all good. I had to make a quick trip to the bathroom before we left, I’d rather hold it till we got back to the hotel, but we had time before that was going to happen.
(Housekeeping just rang my bell to turn my bed down at 8:50pm as I am journaling, too late I was already in my PJ’s 😉
On to Summer Palace…So far, my favorite!! The grounds were beautiful…I could live here no problem.
There is a huge man-made lake that most of the buildings overlook and this huge Buddhist tower for prayer and burning incense on the high east point on the property. It had the longest walkway painted with all stories of the ancient Dynasties the entire way down. This was the Emperor’s Summer Palace. Lots of photo opts all over the campus.
We left… it was on to the factory where they make the enameled vases with the copper wire inlaid, I can’t think of the name of it, but it was cool (Cloisonné).
Then Du and the driver were nice enough to take me to the “White Peacock” a famous place to shop in Beijing because I still wanted my Foo Dogs. It was 3 stories high and had everything you could want. I didn’t buy much…nothing called to me. Du had extended himself by taking me shopping it was getting late and time to head back to the hotel. It was about a half hour away in this heavy rush hour traffic. We had a good driver that knows all the back alleyways and short cuts. That was the best part…seeing the rawness of the culture in the back alleys on the drive back. My camera couldn’t catch all the motion…It reminded me a lot of back roads in Mexico. Dinner, a bath, bed…. until tomorrow… 6:30am wake up call and then on to the Ming Tombs and the Great Wall of China!