Xian to Beijing – day 4 and 5
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Not sure what day it is, but on Saturday, caught a China Eastern flight to Beijing. Plane was packed with business men. Arrived at Beijing airport and no guide to meet us. Scratched our heads for awhile and found a friendly counter clerk who called the phone number we had. Murphy’s law, lapse in communications, our guide had our hotel keys and everything but had no idea where we were coming in from. Finally made contact and motored into Beijing on a high quality freeway. Incidentally, certain things are missing in China, like rental cars, no such thing. Nice hotel, and we met up with R and M, who were wondering what happened to us.
Sunday dawned with blue sky and cold clear air, and our guide told us an interesting story about that. When the government was in the competition for the Olympics, the Olympic committee was worried about the bad pollution in Beijing. As a result, all the steel mills and polluting industries were moved out of Beijing and the traditional coal fired furnaces and stoves were discouraged from use by providing subsidies for using electricity instead. As a result, last year there were 260 blue sky days in Beijing.
Beijing is a surprisingly modern city, high rises everywhere, cars, taxis and buses jamming the streets, good roads, we haven’t been on a potholed rough street yet. There are still lots of bicycles though. I suspect that the cost of living is probably going up fast, lots of stores selling western products such as clothing electronics, etc. They are in a crash renovation for the Olympics, everything is in the process of being painted and freshened, half the Forbidden city is done, the other half is under scaffolding and tarping.
Sunday we did some major touring with the adoption group in Beijing, 35 people so we had our own tour bus. Tienenmien Square, Forbidden City, a rickshaw ride through Hutong Village, and a Chinese acrobat show. The Hutong village is quite interesting, it is a section that is very old and represents the way life in Beijing used to be, alleys, tiny dwellings, but it is also a way of life that is vanishing, being replaced with the high rises and modern stores. The result is that the government has set aside several large sections to be preserved. And it is a big tourist attraction, to take a rickshaw ride through these areas.
We went by bus back to the city to see an Acrobatic Show. This was very colorful with feats that awed the audience. Bob is convinced that the one young man who did a running jump into a somersault through a hoop about 8 ft high could compete for the high jump at the Olympics. The show was an hour long. Then we were stuck in a traffic jam and felt we were back in the USA. Returned to the hotel about 7 and the “old” folks did better than most younger ones. We opted for KFC, choc and ice cream for dinner, definitely Americans.
pictures coming, check back later.