From Winky to China: Day 7

We had a leisurely start to the day as Mr T popped over to school for his weekly football match (6 goals in 3 games by the way). We gave Sarah the Wellington tour and I was reminded what a mess I left my classroom! I’m sure next week I will be ready to get back in and get organised.

Next up was a bit of pampering with pedicures for Sarah and I.

And the main event for the day was visiting Drum Tower to watch a traditional Beijing Opera. It was a bargain for only 40 RMB ($6.44/£3.76). It was my second visit and I found it just as enchanting as the first time. We had no idea what was going on but enjoyed it anyways. The venue itself was quite a surprise as we walked into a stone building to find a massive room with the walls and ceilings covered with intricate woodwork, and the seats were tables surrounded by chairs. A lovely pot of jasmine tea, and robust crowd of older Chinese, which I can only assume are weekly regulars to the show. Both the music and singing are quite different than anything I have experienced but very interesting and some would say a bit hypnotic. It surely won’t be my last visit to the opera.

A quick visit to Joy City to get a few items for a packed lunch for tomorrows Great Wall excursion and off to the St Regis for a buffet dinner. As always we received a warm welcome from the staff and the food was delicious. We ended the meal with a glass of wine out on the terrace enjoying the beautiful blue sky and sunset by the river.

One last stop to collect some dry cleaning and we stopped in our local tea house. We managed to get some of the delicious teas we tried whilst in Beijing for a fraction of the cost. Early to bed today, as it is a 3 am wake up to watch the World Cup final.

-Mrs T

From Winky to China: Day 5

Our second day in Beijing we headed out on a mini tour, we had booked a bus to see three major sights. We were pleasantly surprised when we were collected by a mini bus and told it would be just the three of us on the tour!   Our guide Gary was energetic, knowledgeable and spoke great English. Summer Palace was our first stop and I think for all of us it was the highlight of the day. Having no prior knowledge of what we would be seeing, it really surprised and impressed us. The beautiful lake, tons of greenery and lots of history were great to see. It is a place we will surely visit again, but perhaps not in 34 degree heat!

Next up, the not so great part of orgainsed tours, a mandatory stop at a ‘silk factory.’ Although I had my ‘I’m not going to buy any of this rubbish’ face on I did really enjoy the presentation on silk worms and how silk is formed, as I had no idea. It did make me appreciate the higher cost of silk. And as much as I didn’t want to ‘give in’ I did buy a small silk cushion that unfolds into a small blanket.

From there it was on to The Forbidden City, a visit that has intimidated us on several trips to Beijing. It was busy as ever but we were so thankful to have Gary to guide us, as without him I think it would have been a lot of aimless wandering. Again, a beautiful, fascinating place that I am sure we will visit again. Following here we stopped at a pearl shop, no purchases this time! Then we were on to a humble Chinese lunch of noodles before going to the Temple of Heaven.

This was another location that we didn’t know much about and were pleasantly surprised. It was less busy than the first two sights, and it felt much calmer and peaceful. By this point we were feeling a bit fatigued and didn’t spend as much time as we could have. Our final stop was a Tea House, which was really interesting and tasty but the salesgirl was not impressed when we weren’t willing to buy any tea!

Gary delivered stories, facts and history, which have really peaked my interest in learning more about Chinese culture. The pictures below will really speak for themselves; we were so lucky for a beautiful day with blue skies and sunshine!

We were lucky to get the first available train back to Tianjin. We popped into the St Regis for a quick dinner and then home to recharge after our long day. (We needed it after 23,000+ steps, that is over 15.4km walking in one day!)

-Mrs T