Thursday, January 2, 2014

Our Trip to Beijing

The Lambs took a quick weekend trip to Beijing.  We took the high-speed train from Hongqiao and it took just under 5 hrs.  The train is incredibly smooth and efficient, and much more comfortable than a coach flight.  Airplanes in and out of Beijing are often delayed so this was a great option.  
     The air quality is Beijing can be the worst in China, but we were lucky and had clear skies but cold winds.  We stayed at the Fairmont and our room even came equipped with (2) gas masks wrapped in velvet bags.  They looked more like something you would need on a space walk.

gas mask
gas mask unwrapped
We had dinner at Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant, very famous for Beijing Duck.  The Chef carves the duck at the table.  First he cuts down the backbone and the fat drains out.  Then he slices it making sure that each slice has some of the crispy skin. skin.  We had the duck with thin pancakes, sliced scallions and hoisin.

 The following morning we went to The Great Wall.  There were several options for the tour.  We could go to a section of The Wall that is frequented by Chinese tourists.  I guess this is the first part of The Wall that was open to the local public and remains popular.  We chose to go farther along The Wall, further from Beijing, to an area that was less crowded.  We took a cable car up the mountain and it was well worth it, it's a very steep walk.  The actual cable car we rode down in was the same one President Clinton rode when he came to the Wall.

 Our guide explained how sections of the wall have been rebuilt over the centuries.  Many of the original stones were held together with a mix of sticky rice and lime mortar.  The bricks were made with baked clay and tree sap.  The Wall was built to fend off the Mongols and other invaders using forced peasant labor.  Soldiers would defend the wall by shooting down from the parapets.  They would also pour stones or hot oil through holes cut into the sides of the walls onto enemies trying to climb up.  Ouch.

rice and lime mortar
Chris and Katie
When walking down from the cable car, we saw many vendors trying to sell souvenirs, snacks, etc. They are really aggressive, and don't take no for an answer.  Chris was bombarded!   He's too nice to just tell them "Wu Bu Yao" (I don't want any).

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