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Summer Palace, Lama Temple, Pandas and a Tea Ceremony...

sunny 25 °C

Today was day one of our two-day excursions to end our week here in Beijing.

We were disappointed at first as the Pandas we were so excited to go and see were the ones we saw at the zoo on Tuesday.

  1. sadpanda.

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However, I discovered the evil monkey from before isn't evil, he's racist - in so much as he only attacks white girls. Mainly me.
We passed his enclosure on the way to the Pandas and he saw me from across the other side and actually took a run-up towards me and threw himself at the glass - when that much monkey is hurling itself towards you, you genuinely doubt the effectiveness of the glass!

So yeah, same Pandas, no reserve = not very happy so far.

We did a bit of shopping, no more than 10 minutes, in this cute little street with tiny shops that had amazing jewellery, and I am now the owner of this:

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So yeah, I'm pretty gangster now by Chinese standards...! :P

Then we moved on to the Summer Palace...

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I think it would be better going there on your own/with whoever you're in China with as the tour itself, although interesting and informative, didn't allow much time for personal exploration, i.e. there were people climbing the mass of steps up to the palace itself and we weren't able to do so due to time constraints for other activities.
Michelle and I have weekends off from school so we're thinking we may come back to Beijing to do the Summer Palace properly when it isn't a Chinese holiday and there aren't hundreds of people milling about where you're trying to walk!

Then we got taken to this pearl place that basically manufactures natural fresh water pearls, like the water at the Summer Palace - they basically take an oyster/clam/some kind of shellfish(!) and cut out the membrane really carefully, then they cut the membrane into tiny squares and put them back into the shell which the fish naturally rejects but by doing so it secretes something that builds on the membrane and the end result is basically a living shellfish that when you cut it open, instead of having 1 maybe 2 pearls, it has between 20-30 and depending on which minerals it has come into contact with in the water, determines the colour of the pearl.
It was pretty interesting but then you had the whole "come upstairs and look at our fine jewellery..." bit - so to be polite we went and did the window-shopper thing then went and used the toilets (western ones!!) and left for lunch.

We had some weird ass Chinese food for lunch as part of the tour in this out of the way restaurant - it was me and Michelle (my housemate) and two Australian Chinese girls who were on the tour with us.
To say it was odd would be an understatement, the girls were lovely but the whole tour felt a bit odd!

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We then went to this really cute little tea house called Dr. Tea and we were shown different types of tea and told about their medicinal qualities which appealed to me as there is specific tea to help with colds and coughs! (Winning!) we got to try them all as part of a proper tea ceremony in tiny cups for tasting and how to drink it and the correct way to hold it etc and we learnt about why some tea is more expensive than others etc... we then spent, what we now realise, was an extortionate amount of money on said tea but we got cute tea cups with strainers in them and little pee-pee boys who pee when the water is the right temperature to make good tea, but they don't pee when it's too cold, and the women were nice and we got a great bag and we wanted good tea for the apartment and.... we got ripped off basically! We got back to town and realised we'd paid at least double what we needed to have paid but whatever, it was all good.

After the tea house we went to the Lama Temple..... Wow.

That place is stunning and simple all at the same time. There were people praying with incense, there were Buddhist Monks walking around, people were throwing coins into really old sculptures for good luck and the statues were absolutely stunning.

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We learnt all about why there are different types of Buddha and what each individual one symbolises. I had a few silent words with the Buddha of Health and Well-being (obviously) and then we asked to be dropped off at the Wang Fu Jing Market where we found these little critters:

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The small scorpions were still alive and kept wiggling around - it was really unpleasant - the other bugs, starfish and seahorses were definitely no longer with us! The whole birds looked a bit too much as well! As brave as Michelle and I are, that just wasn't going to happen!

Everything here is served on a stick! Except the dumplings, which Mish and I are a little addicted to!

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Tianamen Square, the Great Wall and the Forbidden City tomorrow then off to my new home Saturday and starting my new career Monday!
Exciting times!!

Posted by Lady Mantle 04:32 Archived in China Tagged pandas peacock jewellery lama_temple summer_palace wang_fu_jing_food_market eating_bugs chinese_tea evil_monkey Comments (2)

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