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Thursday, March 30, 2006

"The First Ring"

Lyn, our tour guide, was INCREDIBLE. Part storyteller, part entertainer and just downright Ms. Personality; she did a wonderful, wonderful job showing us her home of Beijing. We began our morning at the Summer Palace which is about 1.5 hours' ride out (less if you aren't gridlocked on the freeway) of Beijing. The Summer's pretty incredible and I can't imagine it in all its glory when the trees and flowers are in bloom. Here's where the storytelling Lyn kept us in suspense as she engaged us in the drama about the original 'dragon lady' empress who was so obsessed with power she killed her son and nephew to retain control for 40 years.

Afterwards we returned to the heart of the city: Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. These are also inside what's known as the "first ring" of Beijing. The city was originally walled and as it has grown and radiated out they have added over the centuries additional rings, so there are a total of five rings in Beijing. It's how you gain perspective on where something is. My hotel is within the first ring.

My Chinese friends in Wuhan had advised me that northern China was more focused on size and bigness, while in southern China everything is more 'delicate.' I now see the wisdom of their words.

I was overwhelmed with how BIG Tiananmen Square is. And Chairman Mao's mausoleum is impressively big (bigger than the Yorba Linda library!). And when it comes to huge, the Forbidden City is mammoth.

My feet were dragging by the time we made it back to our bus and my role as tourist came to an end.


At 7:35 PM, Lorraine said...

You were very fortunate to have such a good travel guide and see as much as you did in Beijing in the short time you had there. Your advantage, of course, is the fact that you "understand" more than the average tourist, so you probably gained more from the tour.


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