|Well after a great flight - including free champagne (we decided to celebrate the start of our grand tour and the stewardess decided to be kind and not charge us!) we arrived in Beijing completely knackered. Quick sleep then hit the streets to try and find Tinnamnen square and the Forbidden palace. Over the years Simon and I have been to loads of different cities and managed to find our bearings quite quickly - here, it took 24 hours to figure out where we are staying and where that is in relation to everything else. We have never felt so foriegn! Langauge is a real barrier but our vocubulary is now up four words and our sign language is coming on a treat. Finally found The Forbidden palace and Tiannmanen on MOnday - the palace was great. On the first night we ventured into a restaurant and was met with lots of staring people and a few nervous giggles - with the help of our guide book, a but of blind faith and a very helpful waitress we then tucked into the most deliciuos dinner which could ahve feed a family (or two very hungrey Perrys!) - cost about $2 each - We love it here!! Monday monring was a slow start as jet lag was kicking in - stopped off at a tea house and felt right as rain as soon as we tried our first Oolong tea. It was brill - we had a lady stewing and brewing our tea for us and serving it in tiny little bowls - every time we put them down we got topped up. Then tried Green Tea which was gorgous and if poss today (Wednesday) we'll go to another tea house and try some of the other teas. They seem to come in different strengths and there are a million different types.
Yesterday (Tuesday) we hit the tube and headed out of town to the Summer Palace - this is where the emporer and his gang used to head for the summer months to escape the heat of the forbidden city. We renamed it the 'british palace' - it rained all day! However it was really very peaceful and spectacular. But we soon discoverd there is only one thing in Beijing that is funnier than a Perry and thats a Perry who is soaked to the skin - its quite unnerving to have people laugh in your face for no particular reason - we have never felt so funny - a walking freak show!
On MOnday (when trying to find the forbidden palace) we met a very friendly rick shaw driver who offered to take us to the palace for 10 Yuan (about 60p) - we dived on and before we knew it were off on a tour of the Hutong which is basically the poor alleyways where you see chickens running aorund, pigs trotters on sale and what life is really like for a lot of Chinese. It was really interesting but the 10 yuan soon turned into 180yaun each and it all started to get a bit hairy when he screeched the 'ripshaw' to a halt (most probably outside his mates house) and started calling us very bad people! We settled on 100 yaun for the whole journey and then he very kindly dropped us about half a mile from where we were originally trying to get to. Oh well - live and learn!
Our hotel is great but they are very strict on certain rules of ettiquette - we have a notice in our room that specifies the following are not allowed:-
No go whoring
No make gamble
So we've checked out .... only joking!
We're off to the Great Wall tomorrow - 4 hours trekking a day planned so you may not hear from us for a while! Then we go to see the Terracotta Army and head down to Shanghai. So we'll be in touch again once we get to Shanghai next week. So far we've both loved Beijing - had some brilliant experiences and a lot of laughs and filled the memory cards on the camara already!
So for now - Zai Jian (goodbye) and we'll be back next week
Si & Pen x
PS - The chinese are big into Internet cafes and this placce is rammed with mad gamers thumping away at the keyboards. COnsequently most of the letters are worn off the keyboard and we're relying on touchtyping! Not bad result cxonsidereing