China – on to Beijing (continuation of a series by DreamFinder Travel agent Kim Merrill)
Today we are off to Beijing. Since we had a fairly early wake up call, our group was able to have a Tai Chi lesson from a master instructor prior to heading to the airport. We all headed to the tennis court area at the hotel so that we could start with some stretching before trying to absorb the lesson.
Our instructor was young….maybe late 20’s/early 30’s. It was funny to watch a group of swimmers trying to stretch out. They were quiet and respectful as they attempted to perform the same movements that the instructor was doing. Most of them, while awesome swimmers, pretty much failed in the flexibility category. Regardless of the form, the stretching felt good after days of walking, my calves were sore from all the walking we had been doing.
The lesson proved to be a challenge. Our guide was translating the master’s instructions, and it was a bit difficult to understand whether we were mirroring the movements or doing them on the same side he was (but looking opposite). Either way, this form of Kung Fu (it’s a subset, apparently) is an art form to master. I could follow along, but there was no way I could remember it when we were asked to do it on our own. When the master demonstrated for us at the end, it was interesting to see some of the mixed martial arts incorporated to the movements he was performing. It made this more obvious as to why it is classified as part of the Kung Fu family.
After finishing up the Tai Chi, and checking out of the hotel, we headed to the airport to catch our flight. The flight to Beijing was just under 3 hours and quite frankly, it was mostly awful, and I will just leave it at that. We deplaned and retrieved our bags and met our Beijing host, her name was Yo-yo and she was very sweet. We had a bit of a shock in terms of weather—when we left Guangzhou it was 70+ degrees, and upon landing in Beijing—40ish degrees with a strong wind! Quite a change, and we ended up having to bundle up to stay warm.
Our bus headed out and we went by the Olympic stadium to check out the structures there. The Bird’s nest is absolutely beautiful. She told us about the symbolism of the reason this was designed and built, and the summary is that it represents family and a “coming together”. The Blue Cube was right behind it, but we didn’t get to go in. It would have been awesome for the group of swimmers to be able to do so, but this has been changed into a community-accessible center. We got all our obligatory pictures and left to head to our “Peking Duck” themed dinner.
By this point most of us were tiring of Chinese food. We had so far had a few items to eat that had been duck dishes, but not had a duck carved tableside as of yet. Our experience so far with the duck dishes we had consisted of nugget-like pieces that had bones still in them (as if the entire bird was chopped up), not exactly pleasant. Tonight, the chef brought the duck into the room and carved it up by the table. They served it with mu-shu pancakes and the sauce that goes with it. I enjoyed it with the pancakes, but not on its own—I found it dry and gamey.
After dinner we headed to our hotel, which was also a Marriott property (under the Renaissance label). It is considered the same hotel category as the previous hotel, but it is not as nice, and the beds feel like bricks. The kids have been assigned new roommates but thankfully not the adults, which is a good thing as my roommate and I are compatible and able to both shower and get ready without issue (pretty important when sharing a room!) The kids at this point have started to form some cliques, so it is nice to shake things up a bit to remind them that they are ALL here TOGETHER.
More on Beijing tomorrow—for now I’m off to bed!