Alright, where were we . . . ?
Just about to hop on the subway to meet our friends for dinner . . .
Here's a video we took during rush hour in Beijing - its actually not that different from what you might see in Toronto but keep in mind this is the 4th train to go by in about 5 minutes!! Madness!!
We met up with Yao Yao and his cousin for dinner. They took us out to try the ever-so-famous "Beijing Duck" (formerly known as "Peking Duck"). If the appetizers were any clue to the duck that was coming - we knew we were in for a treat!
There he is . . . sliced 108 times (China's magic number (remember the soldiers?)).
The next morning, map in hand, we went on another adventure. We went in search of "The Temple of Heaven." We found the surrounding wall with relative ease but it took us a good 45 minutes to walk the perimeter and find one of four entrances!! (Lonely Planet: If you are reading this - you may want to include the location of the entrances on your map. . . )
Well, we got in and the walk was worth it. Constructed in the 13th Century, The Temple of Heaven was where the Emperor would go to pray for a good harvest. Below is the aptly named "Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests." It's built entirely out of wood and with no nails!
Here's a girl in 'winter shorts' (the current trend among hip Asian women) walking down the sacred Emperor's pathway. In the 13th Century you'd be killed for even thinking about stepping on this path (much less doing it while wearing shorts in the winter!)
The Imperial Vault of Heaven
Next stop . . . Beijing Olympic Park!!!
Check out the 'Bird's Nest'! This is where the Opening and Closing Ceremonies were held for the 2008 Olympics.
Inside, it was a little cold, but you could still imagine Usain Bolt tearing up the track.
They were hosting a Winter Festival so there were kids playing games and running around all over the track. There was even a little ski hill built outside!
There's the 'Water Cube' where all of the swimming competitions were held. We weren't able to go inside (impending train to catch). But, at least we were able to see it lit up before we had to leave . . .
It was really exciting to see the Olympic Green in person. It all felt very 'fresh' - and there was still 'Olympic Magic' in the air. (Cheesy Olympic Songs sung by Sarah Brightman, too)
Alright - next stop TIBET!!! But first . . . 48 hours on the highest railroad on the planet!