Sunday, May 1, 2016

Day 5 - Temple of Heaven

Ominous looking day with all of the smog around the city.  The Temple of Heaven, well it is not every day that you get to stand on the very spot that the Emperor did to pray for a good harvest. The walk through the outer layers was certainly interesting, and hard to imagine the formal procession, lighting of fires and animal sacrifices on the altar.

And here is the magical spot that you have to run into and pose for, quicker than trying to time the two skipping ropes flicking around at the speed of light!  Everyone wants to stand where the Emperor did.

What about being a gardener at the Temple of Heaven, always prestigious for the resume?

Even the trees looked ancient.

As we wandered out of the temple, it is after 1:30 pm and I haven't eaten lunch.  I am hot, tired and hungry.  Perfect spot to land a tea house I say.  It is a tourist dream, multiple rounds of tea served with free nuts, all in the hope that you will buy some expensive tea or china to take home.  Our lovely guide joined us for tea.

Very serious routine that the tea maker goes through.  I reckon she may have done it a few hundred times before.  To my surprise, the youngster did all rounds of the tea drinking as well.


Day 5 - Beijing

As we drew back the curtains this morning, we were delighted to see the King Parkview.  The scenic view complete with rolling smog ;-)

I picture of true delight for as far as the eye can see.

Breakfast was a large "buffet" room with catering desperately trying to please the international audience.  Big sigh from the youngster and I, this may be a long day and thank goodness for the snacks squirrelled away in our back pack.  The youngster is suddenly aware that she is the centre of attention and starts squirming around.  Apparently an international rock star has arrived at the breakfast hall, cameras are out and Chinese people are starting to make a bee line just to touch or have there photo taken near the blonde haired child.

Our first stop after 5 days was to try and find somewhere to get some laundry done.  After some very questionable directions from the hotel lobby, we headed off down some alleys to try and locate the laundry.  So far in our travels we have not seen very many animals.  So when we passed this little guy, there was a squeal of delight from the animal lover.  A wry look passed between the adults as we noted that this was unlikely to be a long living pet.

After trying to have conversations with several local people about where the laundry might be, and knocking on some random doors, we give up the search and head back to meet up with the guides.  First stop is a local park.  It was fantastic to see everyone out exercising, young and old, people everywhere.  Yep, just taking my sword down to the park to practice my moves.

Aunty Helen thought she would bust a move with some very accommodating people kicking around a large shuttle cock kind of thing.  Unfortunately plenty of air swings and giggles all round.  I was impressed by the efforts, as the youngster and I hung back skulking by the camera.

Practicing your writing was also a popular activity, little brush, some water and away you go.


Day 4 - Travel to Beijing

We left the hotel and Hong Kong enroute to Beijing.  We decided to grab some lunch in the airport, Aunty Helen has purchased some dumplings.  The youngster looks over with an interest and then decides she is going to give them a try.  This is quite a large step for the perennial fussy eater, but the look of joy upon tasting said dumpling was joy.  So I was promptly departed to pick up a tray of dumplings!

After 3 hours flying we were desperate to use a bathroom.  Remembering that bathroom facilities will be an issue, I decided to use the airport ones before we left.  After lining up for five minutes, we arrived at the head of the queue.  Just before we were about to step into the toilets, two elderly Chinese women cut in front of us.  Not really knowing what the rules were, we decided that age had right of way.  Now the next issue is the squat toilets, thankfully we manage to find one that looks like home.  With the youngster needing a bathroom 100 times per day, the squat toilet use is only a matter of time.

We meet our new guides and arrive at the King Parkview Hotel in darkness.  Knowing that we had an early start in the morning, we went for a quick walk through what felt like the Diagon Alley from Harry Potter.  We needed to pick up some travel snacks for tomorrow, and I passed over some currency to the locals.  With no translator present and no English spoken there was a flurry of words being thrown around us.  The note was passed along to each of the staff members and then back to me.  After pausing for a short while trying to figure out what was wrong, it suddenly dawned on me that I had used Hong Kong money.  In my defence, I think they looked similar, ok well they were both red with a 100 on them!  What was interesting was that the Chinese people had no idea what currency I was trying to give them.

After a long day travelling, we found a quaint little bar to source some refreshments.  We were greeted by 80's music, with was amusing.  The food appeared to be the clash of many cultures.  Apparently the mint leaves in the mojito can be substituted with glace cherries, and Aunty Helen's request for a spicy meal was met with a whole plate of chillies with a dash of pork!  Wow the mango frappe certainly did go down a treat.

We haven't managed to find a laundry facility after the hotel in Hong Kong failed to collect the laundry from our room.  Our hotel room now is looking like the inside of a Chinese laundry with our washing hanging everywhere and the hope that it will dry before we leave this hotel.


Day 3 - Meeting Local Friends

Our travelling companion is quite seasoned and seems to have friends dotted all over the world.  We had arranged to meet up in the afternoon at the local museum.  Taking advantage of old friends catching up, the youngster and I headed off to the café whilst the pair toured through the museum.  In the café we were greeted by the smell of coffee, but the taste of the local milk had not yet grown on me.  We did see some local toasted buns, so we ordered one each and sat down to wait.

I am really not sure what we were expecting, but a bread roll with butter and condensed milk spread on top was a bit of a surprise.  There were giggles all round as we tucked into them.  Of course the youngster needed to visit the bathroom, as with most establishments in life.  I know it is politically incorrect around the world to whip out your camera in the bathroom, but check out these toilet doors!

Vicki of course new all the good spots to eat, and I was somewhat excited about not having Japanese for dinner.  I do love going into a restaurant and seeing it packed out with locals, it is a good sign that the food is great.  Vicki was in charge of the menu, and we were soon surrounded by an amazing smorgasbord of delights.  The sweet and sour pork was out of this world, as was the youngster's and my use of chopsticks.

With the friends deciding to take another stroll along the harbour, we bid them farewell and headed back to the hotel, bed and resting our weary legs.