Monday, February 6, 2012

Day 1 in Beijing, Monday, February 6

Day 1 in Beijing - Monday, February 6

After 24 hours of travel we arrived in Beijing, China, a city of 18 million people and 5 million cars. We began the morning at 9 a.m.  First stop, Tien An Men Square where we enjoyed a South Dakota style winter day (20 degrees and 30 mile hour wind).  The Square is similar to the Mall at the national capital in Washington, D.C.  It is a tourist attraction, but there were not a lot of people because today is the last day of the Chinese New Year holiday and so many were celebrating the Yuan xiao jie festival today.

From there we went to the Forbidden City, which served as the emporer's residence until 1924, when it was turned into a cultural museum.

Then the Class enjoyed a rickshaw ride through the Hutong Area, which is another term for living areas. There we enjoyed traditional Chinese fare served by a local Chinese family that lives in four family compound.  Five people in this family and they live in a very small, cold home.  Meal included items like potstickers, long beans and pork, a sweeet dumpling dessert, and candied dates.  There were several good items and a few very interesting dishes as well.

After lunch it was time for the Pearl Market and a shopping center where the class spent more money than needed?? but got several beautiful items. The Class was also able to experiencing open barganing where negotiating made it possible to lower the price by at least half.

Supper was eaten at a restaurant that featured Peking Duck sliced thin and then rolled it in an ultra-thin rice flour pancake with onions, cucumber and soy sauce. Several other dishes were served which were nice to try as well.

The evening ended with non-stop fireworks going off outside the hotel, Sunworld. Since its the end of the new year holiday everyone is shooting off fireworks at random spots, including in the streets, and they are much larger than fireworks we are use to. Decorations for the holiday are red lanterns hung everywhere, and lights are strung in trees.

Signing off,

Kelly Bruns, Susi Odden, Tammy Basel, Codi Mills

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