We had a full agenda for our first full day in Beijing. After an early wake up call, we were off to the 2008 Olympic village. WOW. For those that do not follow Olympic events, this might not be a big deal, but for me, I watch almost every event possible event on every Olympics. It was almost weird just standing on the same ground as did the best athletes in the world. Garrett and I both purchased 50-YEN tickets to enter the "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium. This area holds 90,000 people and is state of the art. Inside, they were playing a video on a jumbo screen that showed the construction of the stadium. They also showed clips of the opening ceremony.
I found it interesting that the Chinese constructed most all of their Olympic stadiums all in an Olympic park. All arenas were located around a huge plaza and very were very walkable. For the Olympic follower, the "Water Cube" was bigger and brighter than on TV. Finally, the Olympic village, where the athletes lived, was also within walking distance. These "flats" are now luxury apartments selling for $40,000-YEN per square meter. Now that's a different way of pricing a condo. It's hard to understand, but all condos and apartments are sold by the square meter.
After the village sightseeing tour, we were off to a jade factory. China is well known for jade and the fine art they build with jade. We saw a jade table and chairs priced for $69,000 American dollars. Now that is a big rock!
After another Chinese lunch we drove 1.5-hours to the Great Wall. I can only say the pictures and stories do not do this justice. Briefly, this wall was started 400 B.C. It is 2000 miles long. It is huge and it is in the mountains... at the very top of the mountains. I do not see how any army of men could ever build something like this. It seems impossible even with modern road building equipment.
Tonight we had our Peaking Duck dinner. I am not a big duck eater but this was really good. Peaking duck is a Beijing specialty. I am finally getting the hang of using chop sticks and I am finally opening up my southern pallet and trying the unusual Chinese dishes. Honestly, Garrett and I are really enjoying the food here. I can't say that for the whole group.
Tomorrow is our last full day in China... that is, if we don't just stay.