Saturday, September 1, 2012

Beijing or Bust

After our trip to Jeju Island, Korea, we had just enough time to unpack, wash some clothes and repack for our weekend trip to Beijing.  Jamie had been to Beijing before, but this was the first time for the girls and me.  We took the high-speed train, which can reach a speed of 300 kilometers an hour, from Suzhou to Beijing and it took us just 5 hours to reach the capital city.  Before the high speed train was introduced, it took 12 hours by regular train.  

On the train and ready to go. 
Heading north everything became much dryer. 
We experienced some hazy skies because the
farmers were burning the wheat fields after harvest.

EBean keeping busy. 

This was one of our snacks on the train ride home...
donkey hide gelatin cake.  Yummy!
The high-speed train is such a great way to travel --minus the few accidents they had at the start of service (I’m sure the bugs are worked out).  It is very clean and the ride is smooth.  It was nice to see how the landscape changed as we moved further north.  We moved away from wet, marshy land with rice paddies and saw more mountainous terrain with wheat fields.

The main purpose of our trip was to visit some friends from the US who now also live in SE Asia.  If they were going to make the long trek to China, we weren’t going to let anything keep us from making it to Beijing!

Cooking outside.
Our first night we went out in search of Weger food.  The Weger ethnic group live in the far northwest corner of China (near all of the “-stan” countries, like Kazakhstan) and they are Muslim.  After taking in the local scenery as we walked, our friends, Jamie and I successfully found a Weger restaurant complete with an outside grill and lamb kabobs.  The food was great, but the company was better!

Look at that meat...that's what I call a skewer!

Amanda & I enjoying our dinner!

Sunday we stayed close to the hotel, but we were able to enjoy a complete Chinese banquet with some dishes I had never tasted before.  One was sweet potatoes that I think had been fried and then covered in a sugary, taffy-like goodness.  It was necessary to dip your chopsticks in water to keep them from sticking together.

They played together last year in the US and
this year they played together in China.
We ended our trip to Beijing on a bus with our friends to see the Great Wall. It was a long couple of hours to get to the wall, so we had a lunch break when we first got there. Guess where we Subway, of course!  Once at the Wall, we went to a portion of the wall where it is possible to take a sled-like contraption down it (it’s a luge, like the movie Cool Runnings!)...  This trip, however,  we decided to take the more reserved mode of transportation—the cable car. I am putting the luge on my bucket list, though!  

There are Subways everywhere! 
Going up to the top. 
Up, up, and up in the cable car. 
The square building is one of the guard stations
along the Wall.
The faint white line leading off to the right and
top of the picture is the Wall continuing.

LBean and EBean looking at the Wall
go on for miles. 

Amanda and her daughter taking in the view.

Amanda trekking back up the stairs.

The girls with their medals.
The thought had crossed my mind that the Great Wall had such build-up in my mind, that maybe it wouldn’t seem that “great” when I got there.  I should not have been worried as  it was impressive!  Words can’t begin to describe the awesomeness of the wall and hopefully our pictures can do it a bit of justice.  

EBean liked getting a medal to wear around her neck commemorating her first trip to the Wall (although the ice cream at the end might have been her favorite part).  LBean liked seeing the Wall go on for miles and miles and she is considering taking the luge down with me the next time we go.  Jamie enjoyed his second trip to the Wall, but said it was a bit more challenging with children in tow!

The long walk back up!

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