Day One – Beijing

imageDespite the flight and a lack of sleep yesterday, we went on a very full day tour of Bejing.  We went to the Great Wall at Mutianyu.  (There are about five or six different places you can go to the Great Wall around Beijing.  Mutianyu was spectacular.  We rode a cable car to the highest section, and then did some up and down climbing.  It’s just staggering to think of the manpower involved in building the wall during the end of the Ming Dynasty in 1404.  We also enjoyed the drive through the lush green countryside.

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Next, we stopped quickly at the jade factory for lunch (Chinese food of course).  After lunch we stopped at the silk factory.  We’ve never been there before.  It was really quite interesting to learn how they make silk bedding and silk thread from the cocoon of the silk moth.  The kids enjoyed it, and the parents did too.

After that, we took a short rickshaw tour of the old hutong neighborhood pictured below.image

In the hutongs, the Chinese lived in rooms surrounding a central courtyard.  They’re very old Beijing neighborhoods, and more and more of them are being destroyed for newer construction.

For dinner we had Mongolian hot pot (think fondue Chinese style), a very traditional Beijing dish.  Julia wasn’t a big fan, but the rest of us enjoyed it.  Then we visited the night food market, where you can buy almost anything on a stick from fruit to more exotic fare like tiny ducklings (head and all), frogs, and many other “yucky” items, as the kids said.   After twelve hours of touring, our excellent guide Stephanie put a very exhausted Rhodes family in the car for our hotel where we crashed.