Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Beijing Tour Day 1 (Beijing, China)

Today I visited the Panda Zoo, a pearl store, Olympic Park, the Lama Temple, and a local Hutong where I also had for the opportunity to have lunch at.

Panda Zoo:

Pearl store:
We had to stop at one of these government regulated stores as part of the tour, which is apparently rather mandatory for tour groups. I question those who buying anything at these places as they are drastically overpriced and try to scam you, but hey, then again many many tourists fall for it, even people who were in my 3 day tour group. However, it was pretty cool to see how fresh water pearls are produced and how to tell the difference between real and fake pearls.

Now you know why fresh water pearls are cheaper than ocean pearls (ocean pearls only produce one pearl while freshwater ones can be manipulated to produce up to a hundred in one oyster)

Olympic Park (Birds Nest and Water Cube):

Lama Temple:
Old Buddhist temple. I'm sorry but by this point in my journey I was too templed-out to be fascinated by the detail in the temple (then again, once you've seen the temples of Angkor, Borobudur, and ones in Thailand, nothing can compare).

Hutong: The Hutongs are small neighborhoods in Beijing that are characterized by their narrow alleyways and compounded homes. We were taken into a Hutong by a rickshaw driver and brought to a small home where a local family had prepared lunch for us.

On the rickshaw with another person from my tour (a Canadian actually! lol)

Some dishes from the meal the homeowners prepared for us

We had lunch in someones bedroom. There was a bed in the corner and clothes and shoes hidden under the bed. Very unique experience.