Day 4 of my trip to China was spent in Beijing looking at many of the famous places there.
After a full English breakfast, omelette, fruit, cereal, Peking duck & various other Chinese delicacies, we all struggle to climb aboard the bus for a full day. We will be visiting places in Beijing today.
The Temple of Heaven.
The Temple of Heaven was interesting to see but I actually found the locals in the grounds surrounding it more interesting. It was fascinating to watch people doing Tai Chi, dancing, playing instruments, playing cards, singing, dancing or taking part in large games of keeping it up with a football. It was strange to see a group of people practising Tai Chi with large swords, I'm sure in England they would have been arrested. It was here that I made my first purchase on this trip, a large bamboo hat to shade my head & neck, it turned out to be a good purchase saving me from sunburn and from getting too wet later in the holiday when it rained.
Tiananmen Square was huge and the security was high our guide 'Alan' told us the history of the square both good & bad. I found it strange that the Emperor, wanting to look out for the people of China, found it necessary to demolish thousands of homes to build a square so that the displaced people could rejoice in their homelessness.
I can imagine how it looks on days when there is something being celebrated, the colour, the noise & the celebrations must be amazing but on a normal day, it just reminded me of a large empty parking lot with a few large video screens. It was hard to imagine the scenes of 25 years ago when so many were killed by tanks. We were told that no people were killed in Tiananmen Square that it happened a few streets away, this didn't match my memories of the films the rest of the world have seen.
The Forbidden City.
The Forbidden City was huge but bare. It is sad it is mainly empty & that it has had many objects stolen or destroyed in the past. It was here that I found a few concubines to keep me amused.
We were taken to a silk store before lunch where we were shown how the silkworm is used to generate the silk and then how it was woven into many different forms of silk for making various items. It was amazing to see that every part of the worm and silk cocoon was used, even the worm was used to produce make-up.
I purchased a silk duvet, pillow & shirt. The girl that was serving me was very attractive & when she helped me try on a shirt and then undress me again after I asked her if she could come to England to dress me. To my delight, she said she would come to England to be my maid. It wasn't quite what I had in mind but it was a start.
Lunch & knock off-market.
We were taken to a market that sold fake goods and had a food hall. The food hall was large & had many great looking places to eat. Sadly we were taken to a buffet that was terrible, the food was poor quality, cold, & for the most part tasteless. The beer was no better, taking ages to pour by staff that didn't know how to pour beer & generated more froth than beer.
After a poor meal, I accompanied Tracy while she went to buy a dress for her granddaughter as she didn't like bargaining. Pretending to be her husband I told her that she could only have 80 Yuan to buy a dress and after a lot of bargaining and walking off we managed to get the 200 Yuan dress for 80 Yuan. My new wife was pleased & Mel decided she would have to be our daughter.
I didn't enjoy the meal here but I did get a beautiful new wife & a great new daughter, this is going to be a fun holiday.
Shopping all done we headed back to the hotel for a rest before going for dinner tonight.
On our way to dinner this evening we stopped for an aperitif at a Chinese food market in Beijing. I tried 3 of the assorted offerings being sold, firstly I tried a starfish. Not having eaten a starfish before I went to eat it raw. The horrified stall holder shouted at my barbaric manners, took it off me & plunged it into hot oil to deep fry it. I took one leg for myself & passed the remaining legs to Mel, Dave, April & Rob, offering the remaining body part to Tracy.
All the lucky people who had a leg soon made short work of the legs but alas Tracy couldn't swallow her portion & spat it out. There will be no dinner for her later.
Mel then returned with a spicy snake skewer which we ate between us. It was a bit chewy but the sauce was very pleasant. I decided we couldn't leave without trying a large scorpion skewer. Tracy declined my offer of dinner but after I swallowed the first scorpion, Mel soon polished off the second & we then took a short walk through Beijing for our main meal of the day.