Today was our last day in Beijing. Last night as Craig stayed late on the Olympic Green to get his final HDR (High Dynamic Range) shots of the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube and the other great buildings that China constructed for this event, the girls and I took the Olympic Bus to the Metro and headed home. Our driver our final day of sightseeing was scheduled to arrive at 8:30 AM and with the non-stop schedule we had been keeping, I really wanted to get the girls to bed before midnight.
Our plans for the final day included seeing the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China. While we have spent the last few weeks marveling at the new openness of China, we also wanted to make sure that we took time to also explore the marvels of its past. I had seen videos on the Forbidden City and the mass of land that it spanned and how until even the beginning of this century that it was open to only the Emperor’s and their families. It is amazing complex that spans 990 buildings and in almost 3 hours we managed to make it through only less that 1/3 of the building that were open to the public.
As we left the Forbidden City, our driver took us for about an hour and a half drive to the Great Wall. On the way we stopped for lunch at a restaurant in rural China that, in the words of my sister, had “great, authentic Chinese food.” She was right about the food being great. It was spectacular! I was slightly worried about other issues related to the sanitary nature of the place, for example…the waiters didn’t have shirts, but as I looked around neither did most of the other male patrons. We were instructed to wash our hands from water that came out of a pipe in the wall and fell into a bucket of already semi-brown water. There was a really nice television on the wall, but the floor looked like it had not been cleaned in several days. Our driver, Albert, who spoke a little English and great Mandarin, ordered for us. And after about 6 plates of family style dining food, the Maccubbin family was definitely full! (Only three of us really ate, Summer just had this horrid look on her face until they brought her a bowl of plain white rice and then her world was totally fine!) Albert had ordered for all of us (we never even saw a menu, but this didn’t look like a place that actually even had a menu) so we were at his mercy regarding what we actually ate. But every plate of food they brought tasted so very good!
Albert had ordered beer for Craig and tea for the girls and me. I kept drinking Craig’s beer because I figured if there were really a health issue here, the alcohol would kill what ever it was on the way down. After we left the restaurant we traveled through rural China and on to the Great Wall. The mountains were beautiful and the Wall was amazing, but it did take a climb. We reached the platform with the Cable Car entrance and then rode up to the wall the rest of the way. It was amazing to be on one of the Seven Wonders of the World that you have heard so much about.
As we headed back to the house, it was about 4:30 in the afternoon. And Cathy had ordered us Peking Duck for dinner. Our evening plans (for the girls) included visiting the Tailor for our clothes and getting manicures and pedicures so that we could look great for the first day of school. Craig’s evening plans include another foot and back massage at the spa downstairs. It was a great evening and we all headed home to pack. Our flight in the morning was scheduled to take off at 9 AM, so we needed to be at the airport by 7 AM.