Hello Lehigh Valley, I am sorry I haven't written but I and the 21 others on this trip are exhausted. We left Allentown at 9 a.m. on Friday and arrived at our hotel in Beijing 2 a.m. Sunday their time and 2 p.m. Saturday our time. Many of us (myself included) are waking at 1 and 2 a.m. because of the jet lag even though they let us sleep until 6 a.m. so we get some rest before our more than 12 hours straight of sight-seeing.
We have now spent two entire days in Beijing and what strikes me the post is how enormous the city is. Although 19 million people live in this city and it does take a great deal of time to travel in the traffic, it does not seem congested like NYC with people filling every inch of sidewalk space. If I understood our tour guide that is because there are eight subway lines under the city.
We have visted a jade outlet. I am wearing my bracelet now. The Chinese believe that jade can keep them safe from evil and therefore many (girls especially) wear jade from the time they are 12 years old and never take it off. I didn't know Jade could come in so many beautiful colors. I thought it was just green.
We have stepped over many thresholds here. They are a tripping hazard and vary from just a few inches to almost a foot. Buldings have thresholds to keep in the good and keep out the evil spirts. The Forbidden City has many such thresholds.
Did you know there are 30000 Chinese symbols and not even the brightest among them can memorize them all and that each word in Chinese can be pronounced four different ways giving it four entirely different means. "Ma" can mean mother, horse, scold or linen depending on the tone that used in its pronunciation. When I return, I'm sure I will think of the Chinese when I scold my teenage sons for their tone.
We also visited a Cloisonne factory and saw what time-consuming work it is and visited a pearl outlet run by the Chinese government. Several women prayed for strength there as the manager knew what he was doing when he put $6000 necklaces on the ladies matching their skin tones with the colors of the pearls. I indulged just a little and bought a beautiful purple pearl ring. Once again, I had no ideas the colors that are available.
The street vendors are an experience all in themselves. Persistant is a word that leaps to mind.
The Great Wall is magnificent and many of us climbed to the stop. The steps are uneven on purpose so Mongolian horses would fall as they attempted it. Luckily, Lehigh Valley tourists were more adept than Mongolian horses and no one fell.
The food has been quite good. The Peking Duck dinner was delicious. We we told to fold the duck and some onion in a tiny flat pancake and add some Peking duck sauce -- sauce that to me tastes like a combo of soy sauce and duck sauce. It was very good. We also had lunch in a family's house and that was by far the best. The dumplings were extraordinary.
In the Forbidden City gift shop, several of us were delighted to find Snicker's bars and enjoyed them.
In addition to bottled water, the Chinese like to give us bottled Chinese beer, fire water (in college we called that grain) and of course, the universal beverage Coca Cola!
That's all for now. It is midnight here. I am awake again. We are leaving at 5 a.m. to catch a flight to Shanghai for the Expo and the Silk Road. I will look on the bright side and take advantage of the time to enjoy my 5-star hotel room for the first time. I plan to return to the Lehigh Valley exhausted, bejeweled and spoiled!
Deb Walter of Priority Bracelet