We dragged ourselves down to the hotel lobby to head for the airport at an ungodly hour. Our flight was at 8 am. I ended up seated beside Rosalind and Tomas (the youngest of our group at 8 yrs. He is here with his grandfather Ed – retired anthropology prof). He is a great kid and fits in with us all. He has 27 grandparents to spoil him.
It was only a two hour flight and was really quite comfortable. In no time we were loaded onto our Beijing bus and headed into town for lunch.
From here we were taken to the famous Tiananmen Square where we saw the monument to Mao Tse Tung that holds his body. It is a huge open air square that can hold half a million people.
At the north side of the square is the Forbidden City – home of the last emperor of China. We made our way across the square towards the ornate entrance to the Forbidden City. To get tickets to go into the Forbidden City you need to provide your passport and the ticket is produced with your passport number on it. Tony had collected our passports ahead of time but somehow there was a mixup between some of the tickets and the passport numbers so we stood outside the entrance for at least an hour before Tony was finally able to straighten things out. He was a bit frazzled over the whole business.
The City was an interesting set of buildings for the emperor and his many concubines. I’m afraid I didn’t catch much of what our local guide Angel said. She has an annoying habit of saying ‘Ahh’ after every few words and her English pronunciation is not very clear. I will do some research on the Forbidden City when I get home.
It was late before we were loaded onto our bus to head to our hotel – the Wyndham – in the northwest section of the city. We passed the Birds Nest stadium on the way but it was not yet lit up for the night. Even still it is an awesome sight.
The hotel is fine – not as great as some of the others but still lovely.
We finished Alan’s scotch for him then Dave, Dawne, Janet, Alan, Rosalind and I headed for the bar/dining room to get a drink and a bit of supper. They were slow to serve (I think they prefer people to eat buffet-style) but we had good conversation and drinks to keep us going.