Wednesday, February 2, 2011

August 30 Beijing

Bruce stands at the center of the Chinese universe.

Today was a rainy day in Beijing. The Xiao Xi’ang breakfast buffet
was very nice, and certainly a cut above what we have had in Russia and
Mongolia. It was the city sightseeing day. Our tour included the Temple of
Heaven, as well as the surrounding park and gardens. That was beautiful.
After we left the Temple of Heaven, we went to Tiananmen Square which
was still decorated for the Olympics. They were picking up the potted
flowers while we were there. Unfortunately, the National Museum of China
and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution were closed. As it turned out,
we would not have had time to visit them anyway. We learned that the area
just to the east of the current square is the Legation Quarter established after
the Boxer Rebellion. The Beijing Railway Museum is located kitty-corner
to the southeast corner of Tiananmen Square. (Here, I am making notes for
a future, return visit.) We all went through the Mao Zedong mausoleum,
and that concluded the official part of our tour.

Scenes of the Temple of Heaven.

Penny and I went on to the Forbidden City, which took the rest of the
afternoon. It was as magnificent as the Temple of Heaven is beautiful. We
entered from the south, and the palaces and courtyards seemed never to end.
There were several pavilions displaying artifacts and history. One of these
was about palace officials. It was interesting to see the comments in English
about Yuan Shi-kai. It listed the governorships he had held and outlined his
career in the imperial military. There was no mention whatsoever of his role
in the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1911! Not one word!

We had a nice lunch inside the palace, where we ran into Karina and
Andreas. They were enjoying Beijing, and Andreas assured us that he was
now cooperating with the program. We toured around some more, saw the
exhibit about Pu-yi (the last emperor) and then left via the north gate some
time after three in the afternoon.

Penny’s back was hurting her very much and we also needed to use
the hotel internet access. So we skipped Jingshan Park and went back. We
got our essential business taken care of, and then our group rejoined as we
went to see the Beijing Acrobatic Troupe perform. Alaine did another great
job in procuring the tickets for that show. They were difficult to come by,
although there were plenty of empty seats available at the theater itself.

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