03.08.2014 - 03.08.2014 34 °C
This trip provides a FULL itinerary which leaves little time to catch your breath. Tonight I am trying to catch up on what has happened the past two days.
We flew out of Xi'an on Sunday. Now you have to know this is not as simple as our 10 minute drive to the airport. It takes an hour to drive to the airport and then another two hours to check in so that was pretty much our morning. Our 1:40 minute flight was full but still very high standards. I was most impressed with all three internal China flights, especially Hainan Airlines and the brand new 737-800 airplane.
Our first stop in Beijing was to visit the hutongs of Beijing. Now these are the oldest residences of Beijing and are now protected by the government. In spite of being protected by the Chinese government it seems that the Beijing City Council does not have to abide by the rules of protection and will and are taking down hutongs to make way for things like subways and development. It would be like the Banff Town council telling the Federal government of Canada that they were building a 4000 room resort just off of Banff Avenue!
We were treated to a demonstration of Chinese Hacky Sack. Yes, this was a detour on the Amazing Race last year! We got into our ancient rickshaws for a tour through the neighborhood. Most of the hutong buildings are mearly one room houses, very small with communal bathrooms down the street. However, one hutong is very large with the multi generational family living together, still using the communal bathroom. We stopped at this hutong for a cup of tea. The patriarch of the family gave us a full explanation and he was very willing to answere multiple questions. Very interesting.
Off for an early supper, more Chinese food. I think some of our group is tiring of the similar menu twice a day. Not us, not yet! The food has all been incredibly tasty. We arrived at our hotel for the last of our trip, the Regent Beijing. This 6 star hotels the fanciest we have stayed at. There is even an Aston Martin dealership in the lobby (think James Bond). To say it is wonderful is an understatement. The bed and the silk duvet helped us get a great night sleep.
Of course, we had to venture out to the Night Food Market. Now the market is a very short walk from out hotel. We are in the high rent district for sure, passing the "Peninsula" and the Waldorf Astoria along the way. Just down the street is two blocks of food vendors selling everything from fruit on a stick, to bowls of noodles, to a wide array of bugs, spiders, mealworms, live scorpions (they cook they before you eat them), starfish, sea urchins and so much more. None of us were adventurous enough to dig in but it was fun to walk around. We also walked down the pedestrian mall (think Times Square mini). In a country of 1.4 billion people we haven't really seen crowds until tonight. They were all out on the mall at 9PM Sunday night.
Did I mention how good the bed felt at 9:30 PM?