BEIJING, Some of the wonderful people and places

9/29/2007 to 10/3/2007

We landed in Beijing to the sound of symphony music coming over the speakers in the airport. What a wonderful way to fill us up with beauty and calm after 24 hours traveling.

We fell in love with the warm people here, and all through China, who so much wanted to make contact with us and would say, "Hallo," before we could even say, "Ni hao." English is studied in school now and Americans, American clothes, and TV shows are very popular, with "Prison Break" being the most popular show in China (we’ve never even seen it!).

The mountain-surrounded city of Beijing (bei means north and jing means capital) is home to 17 million; New York City has 8+ million. It is in rapid transition from ancient to ultra-modern, and like other areas of China, the economy is booming. Along with the good have come new problems and paradoxes.

The food was incredible—–wonderfully fresh vegetables, delicious dumplings, the moistest and tastiest duck we’ve ever had, and so much more—quite different from Chinese food we’ve had here in the States, as it wasn’t smothered in salt, soggy, or overly cooked. And the presentation was art work!

We fell in love with the parks. In the last ten pictures in the set above, you will see the park by the Temple of Heaven. Retired people go to the parks in the mornings and exercise on the built-in equipment (who needs a fancy treadmill or Nordic Track?), dance, play hacky-sack, do Tai Chi, ribbon dance, play games, instruments, sing, and more. They socialize, stretch, and are outside under the trees. It all seems quite mentally and physically healthy.

It was amazing to see the Great Wall rising, falling, hugging the terrain, and to know there is so much history behind its building and the story of millions of lives. We visited the Mutianyu section which was extremely picturesque and worth the extra distance from Beijing. The Wall stretches about 4,000 miles, so is wider than the U.S.! Building of the Great Wall started in 220 B.C. to fortify the country’s northern borders, and continued over two millennia. Early parts are made of packed earth and stone, some fortified with twigs, sand, and rice, with tourist sections being refortified with mortar and brick.







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