I'm going to try to be brief, but we did SO much today that it will be hard. :-) We woke up at 4 a.m. We were surprised we slept that late, since I woke at 10 p.m. last night and was like...it's only 10 p.m.?! I was able to fall back asleep pretty quickly.
We had breakfast at the hotel restaurant. They had American and Chinese cuisine. It was interesting eating fried rice and pot stickers along with my eggs, bacon, and french toast...but it was GOOD! Here's a picture of my plate...(that big wad of white stuff toward the back of my plate is dim sum...it was like some meat wrapped in a really thick dough that kind of tasted like Wonder bread if you were to squish it up in a ball and eat it like that)...(the red things are tomatoes)...
After breakfast we went to the Temple of Heaven. This is a HUGE park that used to be a place where the Emperor would go twice a year to pray to heaven and make an offering. There were TONS of people. Most are retired, older people, hanging out having fun...doing tai chi, playing badminton, playing cards, playing instruments, all kinds of things. This is a guy who was dancing. He was a little strange. Our guide thought he was funny.
The park had some temples that were VERY ornate. Everything in China is ornate. The attention to detail is amazing. We took 223 pictures today. So, if anyone is interested in seeing any of this, you're welcome to when we get back.
Lunch was at a Dai restaurant. The Dai people are one of about 55 minorities in China. They live in the south of China. The food was good. They also had a performance of women dancing Dai dances.
After lunch, we took a Hutong tour. "Hutong" means alley. This is the way many middle-class Chinese people live. We took a rick-shaw tour through the hutongs. Our guide called it a tri-cycle, pronounced "tree-cycle." We explained that usually a tricycle is for kids. He started laughing. He was pretty funny. Here is a picture of Steve and I in the rick-shaw. It's basically a carriage on a bicycle...or tricycle.
This is one of the hutongs we walked along. There were many stores and restaurants and bars along each of the hutongs. There were also hawkers and beggars. I have never been approached by so many hawkers before.
As part of hte hutong tour, we went to the Drum Tower. It's a tower where they beat a drum every half hour. We had to climb 69 VERY steep steps. It reminded me of the escalators in Rosslyn...except not that tall.
After the hutong tour, the other couple that was part of our group from CHI today (the others will join us tomorrow) and us went to a huge park. Beijing really does have an amazing number of parks and square yardage of parks. Trees everywhere! And very old ones at that. Unfortunately, there's also a lot of pollution. My eyes really hurt and you can't see buildings or mountaings in the distance because of the smog.
Tomorrow, we're off to see Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City(which we walked past today), and the Great Wall! Hopefully, our feet will hold out. Steve is already asleep. It's about 6:30 p.m. As soon as he wakes up, we're going to McDonald's down the street. We always like to go, just to see how they compare to home. They're always different.