Friday, March 17, 2006

Beijing: Day 2 - Lunch

So, after the Great Wall we were taken to this huge building where we were told we would be having lunch. But first we had to take a little tour of a crafts shop -I never knew or even thought about how some of this stuff was crafted, so it was actually quite interesting.

After the short tour we had LUNCH!!!!!!
Basically it was a dim sum style eat fest with probably some of the best treats we got to taste on the trip!

This was my favorite!! I'm not sure exactly what it is, but I think it was deep fried mochi with cinnamon in the middle. Oh so good. We left totally stuffed and completely satisfied!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Beijing: Day 2 - Morning

Our tour guide picked us up on day two, bright and early for our trip to the Great Wall. Because it was only Mike and I, our transportation was a sedan, rather than the van we had the day before. All was fine and dandy as we headed for the highway, that is until we got into a fender bender. Just a small one. Our driver hit the brakes hard to avoid the car in front of him, and before you know it we were being nudged from behind.

The police -who line the roads EVERYWHERE- were there within minutes. After a bit of talking and even some laughing...we were on our way again, without any more trouble. The drive out to the site reminded me of Lethbridge and the coulies. Bare, rolling hills, everything dry and brown. I loved it!

Once at the site, our tour guide gave us a bit of advice about where to go and set a timeline for us. We went through the gate -by the way, all of the places we visited were included in the tour - and started up the WALL!! Enjoy the photos.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Beijing: Day 1 -afternoon

After a fabulous lunch at a gyoza (potstickers as they are known at home) restaurant where we tried about 10 different varieties, we visited the Hutongs.As part of the tour, we took the carriage you see in the photo to the site and then got a tour of a traditional house from the area.

In this photo you can see the family that was also on the tour with us, a husband, wife and their 8 year old daughter. We spent the whole day with them, they were very friendly and we had no trouble communicating. The other woman in the photo is the owner of the home.

Here's Mike and I on the way back from the Hutongs.

After the tour of the Hutongs, we had tea along a small lake. It was a very contemporary area with lots of drinking and eating establishments lining the walkway. I imagine it's pretty busy in the summer, but on this day, with the cool weather, we sat and sipped warm tea and watched some men try to paddle there boat through the remaining ice on the lake.

No lack of Starbucks in Beijing!

After tea we were taken to a Jade store -very common on these type of tours...Mike and I were a little excited a first, thinking it a good opportunity to purchase some gifts -that was until we figured out the exchange. It was a very high end store and after the saleswoman followed us around for 15 minutes I had concluded that even if I could have afforded something I wouldn't have bought it from her!!

Shopping over with, it was time for dinner!! We were taken to a restaurant that specialized in spicy dishes. The food was SO GOOD!!

The street outside the restaurant.

Dinner done with, we dropped the Kakinuma family off at their hotel and went back to ours. Having seen so much the very first day we decided to stay in, watch some really bad television and get a good night's rest because the next day we were heading to the GREAT WALL OF CHINA!! be continued.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Beijing: Day 1 -before lunch

The first morning of our tour, Mike and I were taken to Tianamen Square! It was a crisp, cool, sunny morning and the sight-seers were just starting to make their way to the Fobidden City which lies just beyond this massive gathering place.

Looking through one of the many many many entrance ways in the Forbidden City you start to get a feeling for the magnitude of this fantastic World Heritage site.

Forbidden City
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Overview of the Forbidden CityThe Forbidden City or Forbidden Palace (Chinese: 紫禁城; Pinyin: Zǐjìn Chéng; literally "Purple Forbidden City"), located at the exact center of the ancient city of Beijing, was the imperial palace during the mid-Ming and the Qing dynasties. Known now as the Palace Museum (Chinese: 故宫博物院; Pinyin: Gùgōng Bówùyùan), its extensive grounds cover 720,000 square meters, 800 buildings and 9,999 rooms. As such, it is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world, and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 as the "Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties". The imperial palace grounds are located directly to the north of Tiananmen Square and are accessible from the square via Tiananmen Gate. It is surrounded by a large area called the Imperial City.

Although no longer occupied by royalty, the Forbidden City remains a symbol of Chinese sovereignty and the image of its entrance gate appears on the seal of the People's Republic of China. The Palace Museum is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. Recently, the site has been under much renovation which has limited visitors to the main courtyards and a few gardens.

Any resemblance???
Just kidding Mike!

Looking out over Tianamen Square from the balcony of the South entrance to the Forbidden City (I'm standing right above Mao's painting).

More red.

Early morning roof tops in the Forbidden City.

Remember the movie "The Last Emperor?" This is where it was filmed! It's under restoration at the moment, but still quite astounding! Also notice the distinct lack of people.

There were soldiers on guard everywhere-they all looked about 15 years old (which we found out was the truth) and they wore uniforms they hadn't quite grown into yet.

This stone slab was carved from a single piece of granite and brought to forbidden palace on an ice road which was made by sprinkling water on the road as the slab was being pulled.

Click on this photo and zoom in on the sign on the door...

Inside the Forbidden City.

Looking down one of the loooooong roads inside the Forbidden City.

I'll leave you with some random shots from our first morning:

Well, Saturday could very well have been my last day on the slopes...that idea makes me very depressed, but I might have to hang up my board until next year.

Kirsten scanned the snow reports Friday night, and we found a hill that promised no RAIN for Saturday...we jumped on it. So off the Tsugaike we went. It's always more fun with more people, so we called up Jimmy-san in Toyama and he rouned up a car full of boarders to join us. Tsugaike is twice as far as Seaside Valley, but well worth the drive we discovered.

And the great thing about having others along is that Kirsten and I can be in pictures together!!!!

Kirsten and I rented the same boards this year -one's slightly lighter than the other...they're Rossignal 'Diva's -how appropriate. I'm actually riding the board she rented and she's riding mine...don't ask why, it's just better this way!

Colonel Sanders was riding the lift all day...

Here are the gloves I've worn all winter. They're tattered and torn from multiple lace-ups and wipe outs so they'll be replaced next year. I guess I'll have to wait and see what color my board is before I make that purchase.

Kirsten and I took a wrong turn at the end of the day, and as a result we got a great view on the way back up the lift!