Archive for October 4th, 2009

Beijing Day 2. Oct 4. The Great Wall, acrobats and more

Walking the Sea Wall 8
Image by reg_nordman via Flickr

Beijing Day 2. Oct 4.

Quite a mixed bag that Jack organized for us today. We took a swing by the Olympic park, which is similar to Sydney’s in that it is full of great architecture, but hardly used now. The Bird’s Nest with the adjacent Cube are awesome structures up close. Nearby is an office , hotel shopping mall complex. it is also another amazing piece of architecture called the Dragon Building, a stylized dragon as the main part and sections behind representing the body and tail. Our next stop was a visit to Dr Tea’s Teahouse, where a delightful little hostess led us through a tasting of many different teas, including natural tea that was over 18 years old. We learned how to get the most from White, Oolong, Jasmine and natural tea.

The highlight of the day was our trek to the Great Wall at Mutianyu. Being a Sunday and a holiday, we had to take several detours to avoid the rush of tourist heading the same way. A very scenic part of China, very mountainous. No matter how many pictures and films you see of this heritage site, the scale of it still boggles the mind. And it is still a steep climb no matter how you approach it. Built by the Ming Emperor (6000 km in length) to keep out the Manchus, which like other walls (Hadrian’s), it did not stop the invaders. We took a ski lift up to the wall and when we had exercised ourselves to breaking point and filled our camera with umpteen shots from different angles, we tobogganed it back down. What a great and exhilarating way to get down!

As we were in the country, we were able to stop at a Cloisonne factory. Cloisonne is a 500 yr old tradition of creating beautiful enameled bronze pots. The “factory” which involves multiple stages of hand labor turns out an incredible variety of materials. This was an interesting stop and we were impressed with product quality.

One thing that I learned today from Beijing merchants. After you purchase a product, they put in something extra, that you did not expect. It is a good remedy to buyer’s remorse.

Continuing our food exploration, Jack took us to a tiny no name noodle shop. Spicy broth, beef , noodles, with lots of cilantro for two with an enormous bottle of beer , all for $3.50. For the locals it is not the decor or the size of the shop, its all about the taste of the food.

On our return to Beijing we took time to look at the amazing and funky architecture downtown. It just could not be built anywhere else. EG the CCTV building goes up, makes a right angle and then goes back down , with an offset angle. Truly amazing architecture, Vancouver should take note!

Our last stop was to a Chinese acrobatics show at the Liyuan Theatre. We were not ready for this. Having seen bits and pieces of these amazing acts in shows in the past isn’t the same as when you put the acrobats, strongman acts, tumblers, balancers, contortionists and more in one very colourful show with great special effects. The mind is simply overwhelmed. Again I recommend it.

Our thanks again to Jack ( for his effort in organizing such a great, informative tour of Beijing. Jack comes highly recommended. He is Skype friendly so you can talk with him before you head over to Beijing. This 28 yr old entrepreneur makes a terrific effort to please you.