“Ce voyage en Chine puis la croisière en Asie était très bien organisé, un brin d’exotisme, dépaysant… c’était parfait dammit! Je le recommandrai à n’importe qui.”
- Mme Myriam Amram, Montréal, QC
MindWare Educational Seminars Goes to China!
Pre-Cruise Tour of Beijing & Xi’an, Part I: After many hours, we have finally made it to Beijing! Our Chinese adventure has only just started, yet we’re already dazzled by the unusual architecture, numerous digital advertising signs in Chinese and the Manhattan-like traffic!
Are you coming or going?!
The best way to describe Beijing in one
word is BUSY! The traffic of pedestrians,
bicycles and variety of three-wheeled
contraptions carrying people and goods is
unlike anything else in the world, even the
busy streets of Manhattan! …and that’s
not even counting the 5 million cars and
trucks!! Most major boulevards are 8
lanes: 4 in each direction plus 2 lanes
on either side for motorcycles and bicycles, so the equivalent of 12 lanes of traffic! We decided it might be best to stick to our bus and taxis to get around!
Nearly Arrested in Tiananmen Square!
As you could see It was very cold the day
we went to visit Tiananmen Square, but little
did we know this would be the least of our
problems. As we set up this picture, we
unfurled our MindWare banner to
commemorate the group’s visit but just as
the guide was getting ready to take the
shot, guards rushed over and told us to roll
it up immediately!! Notwithstanding our vain
attempts to pantomime that we were a
dental group and despite our guide’s best
efforts to explain, we thought better than to argue with them, but got our banner-less
The Great Wall of China
That afternoon we got our revenge on the
banner ban! Our bus took us to a section of
the Great Wall at Badaling on the outskirts
of Beijing. As we made our way up the
many, many, many stairs, we kept our eyes
peeled for any guards. Once in the clear,
we got our picture! The Wall itself is truly
amazing. Begun more than 2,200 years ago,
there are altogether more than 50,000 kilo-
meters of fortifications that have been built
Requisite Silk and Pearl Market Stops!
I’d be remiss, if I didn’t mention a couple of the stops from our first days in Beijing. On our visit to the silk factory, we learned about the transformation from silk worm to spindles and even had a chance to stretch the silk over wooden frames (see video). We also had a chance to stop at the silk and pearl markets each with hundreds of kiosks. Worth visiting to bring home beautiful souvenirs.
Hutong District & Olympic Park
The Hutong district is an area of Beijing that preserves the way of life that was for many years in the Chinese capital. Modern times have see the razing of many of these areas, so it was revealing to see how family homes were organized according to family member hierarchy and to learn about the crafts such as Jianzhi (Chinese Paper Cutting). We also had a chance to see many of the structures from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games such as the Bird’s Nest Stadium and Water Cube where many of the Olympic events were held.
Ming Dynasty Temple of Heaven
Built by the Ming Dynasty, the Temple of Heaven is a huge ancient garden and the largest architectural complex in the world at 23 hectares! Planted with many trees
that are today over 500 years old, it
was an area where sacrifices were
offered and prayers for a bumper
harvest were made. The Chinese of
that time believed the earth was
square and heaven circular, so some
of the shapes around the temple
reflect these beliefs.
BLOG POST AT A GLANCE
WHAT WE DID:
- Tiananmen Square & Forbidden City
- Great Wall of China
- Silk and pearl factories
- Temple of Heaven
WHERE WE STAYED:Swissotel Beijing
Definitely a place to come back to, just don’t mess with the guards!