Thursday, May 14, 2009

Day I in Peking (Beijing)

The day started with a hearty breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant. From French Toast over dumplings to fried fish, everything was available. We took two plates full at once as we were of course late and the buffet about to be cleared away. Our hotel is so conveniently located that we walked down Wangfujing Avenue by the only Catholic church where we saw an art exhibition, past Armani and Hermes stores to Tienanmen Square. At the square we entered the Forbidden City and took a tour across the 1 km long grounds of the palace. Afterward, a taxi took us across town to the Beijing Zoo to see the Giant Pandas. All day, we were not sure if it was cloudy or the sky just filled with smok; we never saw the sun. In the evening, it even began to rain. After a curious dinner at the Peking Duck Restaurant where the waitress didn't understand the difference between raw and cooked veggies (remember: in China don't eat anything you cannot peel unless it has been cooked!) and then poured Danielle's water on her pants. Thus, it made not difference that we got wet trying to catch a taxi in the rain to get back to the hotel. We passed out upon impact with the bed around 7 pm.
The Forbidden City at Tienanmen Square
Trying to be cautious in case we get in contact with any pigs.
Renee, Danielle and The Giant Panda at the Beijing Zoo.
Dinner at the world famous Peking Duck Restaurant
Trying to find a taxi in the rain

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Arriving in Beijing

After a 30-hour trip from Cincinnati over San Francisco and Tokyo, we safely arrived at the Prime Hotel Beijing at midnight local time on May 13th. We survived two Pandemic-Tests (including body temperature check and questions like: "Have you been in contact with a pig in the last 7 days?" or "Have you been to Mexico recently?"). The airplanes were well equipped, all providing us with our own personal entertainment center. Thus, for the past 30 hours pretty much all we've done is eat, drink (only for Isabell as Danielle and Renee were trying to avoid the plane restrooms), watch movies, and sleep.

It is now 7 am local time in Beijing, rather cloudy but already 71 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) and we are up early to make the most of our day in Beijing. The plan is to see Pandas at the Zoo, visit Tiananmen Square to learn a bit more about Chinese history, and see the former Emporer's palace at the Forbidden City.