Friday, March 20, 2009
No rest for the weary
We had a very busy day today! We started with the hotel's breakfast buffet. Let me tell you that this was no mini Holiday Inn Continental Breakfast. This was a huge buffet. There was every kind of food you can think of and some you would never think of. They had some interesting things like fish, chicken, noodles, rice, hot steamed soy milk, strange fruits ect. I stuck mostly with foods I could name, but I did try the coungie. It wasn't very good. It sort of tasted like runny grits. The rest of the food was great! It was a good thing we ate breakfast because we really didn't get a chance to eat the rest of the day unless you include candy and cheese nips.
After breakfast we headed to Tian'anmen. This was the center of the city and had a historical monument on it. Apparently the people consider it the birthplace of new China. Really it was just a large area with lots of people and a very well guarded monument. We walked around and took pictures for a while. The funny part was that we found out we had celebraties in our group. We had a very tall man, a little blond girl, a red head, and some ladies with large chests. These were all noticed and many came up to get pictures with them. The really tall man (Snuffy) had a large crowd following him around taking pictures. It was so funny!
After, we went to the Forbidden City. This is where the emperors used to stay. There are 9,999 rooms in the buildings. Even though we only walked to some of the buildings it felt like we saw all of them. It was really interesting. We learned all about the meaning behind the colors and symbols. We found out that the number 9 was lucky and the number 10 meant as high as God. The colors of red, green, and gold were royalty colors. Ordinary people could only wear black clothing. I find it interesting that in the new China the color black is bad luck. They had no landscaping inside because people could hide in it and kill the emperor and it could catch fire. No one lived in the house with the emperor, not even his wife. People caught wearing gold that were not the emperor were killed. Whatever religion the emperor was the people were the same. Every thing had a meaning and how people had to act was very scripted. It's hard to believe that China was this way until 1911. You would never know seeing the people in the city today. It is very Westernized people speak English, they drink whatever they want when they want, wear the clothing they like, choose marriage partners, choose religion, and the profession they will take on. We were told it's a bit different in rural areas where traditions are more lasting.
After the forbidden City we got a surprise trip to Olympic Village. We were pretty excited! We got to see the Bird's nest and the Water Cube. It is a very touristy area. There were tons of street venders. We did learn how to say no I don't want it (boo ya) We got good at that one. The venders were crazy. A few even ran along side the bus we were on.
Last we went to an acrobat show. It was really cool. There were people doing things with their bodies that should not have been possible. It was a great show, but we were all so tired we were fighting to stay awake! We really had a great first day. Tomorrow we are going to the Great Wall and Summer Palace. Sounds like more walking!