Wow, what a day. We're totally exhausted. It was a long day but we had a great time and learned a lot. After breakfast we met up with our group at 8:30 a.m. and we toured all day until 6 p.m. We didn't get back to the hotel until 7 because traffic was so bad.
We started off by going to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. On the way there we couldn't help but notice how clean and new most of the city was. Pretty much every car we saw was a newer model. Later our guide told us the reason all of the cars are new is because of the economic boom in China during the past couple of years and now many people can afford cars. We also thought we were going to see a coat of smog over the city but it was a beautiful day and the skies were blue.
We then went for lunch and that was very good. One of the dishes served was shrimp cakes (it was fried and looked like a crabcake) and Jason really liked those.
The guide then took us to the silk factory so we could see how silk was made and, of course, buy souvenirs. After the silk factory we took a rickshaw tour of the Hutong neighborhoods and that was quite interesting. There was definitely some poverty that we saw here and it really makes you appreciate everything that we have at home; however, what was impressive was that despite the poverty the people have a lot of pride in themselves and their homes. Someone that lives in this neighborhood let us see his 200-year-old home.
We then visited a porcelain shop and were able to buy some souvenirs here too. We bought a jade "family ball" which is a ball with several other spheres inside it. Each layer is supposed to symbolize a generation and the outer layer holding all of the spheres together symbolizes unity.
After all of this we finally made it back to the hotel and went to dinner at the hotel restaurant. We were too tired to try to find anything else. Tomorrow we're going to the Great Wall and the jade factory. Our guide also said she was going to take us by the bird's nest too (the stadium from the Olympics). We're going to the acrobatics show tomorrow since everyone was too tired today. Here's a few pics from our day:
This is the lobby of our hotel.
Jason and I in the Forbidden City.
Part of our group at lunch.
This was taken at the beginning of our rickshaw tour. Yes, it was very cold.
One of several McDonald's in the area. No, we haven't tried it yet.
That's about all for now. We're extremely tired so I'll add more later.