|From Day 9 Temple of Heaven Departure|
Our last day in Beijing, so we decided to take it a little easier. The only thing on the schedule was lunch and the Temple of Heaven. We wanted to do a little bit of shopping so we went to a pearl market and another large knock off shopping center. Gary was in awe at how much stuff there was in the 5 level shopping center. Lot of junk, but some of the stuff was decent and I'm sure would last for a day or 2 at least (just kidding). I decided to wake up and go to Jingshan Park which was right next to our hotel and overlooking the Forbidden City. The Chinese retired people were in the park doing their exercises, singing, dancing, playing games, and having a good ol time. I climbed to the top and overlooked the Forbidden City. It is truly a shame that Beijing is such a hazy city. A co-worker of mine told me today that it is part pollution, but also just part of the city being in a valley and the dust from mountains and deserts blowing in constantly. Not much the city can do I suppose.
While I was at the park, Jamie, Kathy, and Gary treated themselves to a full body massage last 1.5 hours. The masseuses came to their room and the total cost was just under $55 US for all three massages. Pretty amazing.
After I returned and they finished up, we packed up and were picked up by our guide an driver and taken to the Temple of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven is "a complex of Taoist buildings situated in southeastern urban Beijing, in Xuanwu District. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It is regarded as a Taoist temple, although Chinese Heaven worship, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, pre-dates Taoism" (wikipedia). They renovated it in 2005 - 2006, so the paint still looked great and the temple complex was very nice. Again, the Chinese retired were there in full force. Kathy and Gary particularly like the their dancing. Some were juggling and doing ribbon twirling too.
We ate lunch at a restaurant that was a mix of Thai and Chinese food. The restaurant was based on Dai minority in southwest China which gives it a Thai flavor. There were dancers on stage for entertainment. Gary caught a good luck incense from the dancers. Food was more like western Chinese food, but it was very very good.
Afterwards, we did some shopping and finally had one more final drink and appetizer at Hard Rock Cafe before we headed toward the airport. I have never been on a private guided tour with a tour guide like this before, I can I safely say it was very good. I can't imagine how you could afford such service in the States. Our guided ended up walking us into the airport and checked us in. There was a problem with Gary and Kathy's tickets and he even took care of that for them. Extremely nice and professional. He was very candid about answering our questions concerning China's one child policy, abortion, laws, crimes, health care, retirement, etc. He didn't smother us while touring yet gave us some valuable information. We highly would recommend this for anyone taking a Beijing tour. Just ask me for information regarding it.
We parted with Gary and Kathy because our flight was domestic and was in a different departing terminal. Great visit from them and we already look forward to seeing them and the rest of our family this summer. Beijing is an amazing city with a lot to offer anyone. We learned so much and found out about more places in China to visit. I feel more fortunate now that I am able to work in China so I can visit the wonderful places. Living in the U.S., we have many places to visit, but the cost is so extraordinary. Here, we are able to travel like this and still save money. I'll get some pictures posted soon of Day 9. I think my folders are messed up in the gallery, so I'll get them fixed to coordinate with the blog.