Jasper and I settled into our room in Beijing last night after an exhausting day of travel.
We started our morning at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Beijing with a Continental Breakfast with a mix of eastern and western cuisine. Next, we met our tour guide, Sheila, who met us at the hotel at 8:15 a.m. Our first stop was at Tiananmen Square. Weather was chilly and we watched the soldiers shivering while they were guarding. This was our first experience with the local vendors, who were hawking knickknacks and tchotchke like Chairman Mao wristwatches and Chinese flags. After exploring the various corners of the square, Sheila held up her trusty flag, leading the way to the bus and our next stop, the Urban Planning Museum.
At the Planning Museum, we first viewed a wooden small-scale version of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The top floor offered an excellent view of a large map of the current city of Beijing, and also showed the future plans for the city, including green initiatives.
Sheila next led the way to the Forbidden City, where we toured all the way through to the gardens. The students took several photo opportunities, including the lions guarding the inner sancta, and turtles that promised 100 years of long life.
Shopping opportunities abounded at the Silk Factory, where we started with a guided tour from moth to quilt. After learning of the virtues of real silk, students bought comforters, scarves, dresses, and Andy and Jack dressed in traditional silk garb.
The tour continued on to the Olympic village. We had the chance to look at the interior of the Bird’s Nest, which is being used as a snow park during the winter.
The day ended for some of us at a local restaurant near the hotel called Merry Home. Although there was initial confusion due to the language barrier, we tucked into some dumplings and noodles and enjoying some great customer service. We fell into pleasant somnolence in anticipation of a full day of events and sites to experience tomorrow.