A Most Excellent Adventure with a Most Excellent Guide
We’re playing a bit of catch-up so please bear with us as we bring things up to date.
Our Beijing guide has been one of the best guides we’ve ever had on all of our travels. Robert has been highly professional, very knowledgeable, and wonderful with the kids. He was always checking to make sure we had everyone accounted for and seemed to genuinely enjoy the company of K/D/A.
He told us that he now lived in a multi-story apartment. But prior to that, his family lived in a Hutong area with his parents and brother. This Hutong happened to be in the area where the Government needed to build the Bird’s Nest Stadium for the Olympics. Many other families were also diplaced, but Robert told us how wise his father was when he negotiated with the Government. (The Government was obliged to compensate everyone who was displaced so that they could find a new place to live.)
Robert’s father insisted that the Government provide THREE separate apartments in the same building (vs. most other families just asking for one; his father was very shrewd.) Other families opted for lump-sum cash payments. Many of these other families purchased new cars or other things with their money – leaving them much less to spend on new housing. Since Robert’s father chose the three apartments, his family was able to stay together in the same building (they were not on consecutive floors, but they were TOGETHER, which was most important to their family).
It was obvious to us that Robert was a very intelligent YOUNG man. He finished first in his class in High School and also first in his class at University (his university was half Civil Studies and half Military Studies). He was asked by the Government to join the Military, but Robert decided that this path wasn’t the best for him, since at that time there was a lot of corruption in the government. He took his Father’s advice and started a career as a tour guide. He was able to take the test to join the Communist Party. Robert passed the test and earned his spot in the Party. This was a huge benefit for us, since Robert’s status as a Party member allowed to to use VIP Access queues to many of the historical sites we visited.
After we visited the Great Wall in the morning, we had lunch at a very nice restaurant nearby. Robert and Harry then drove us to the Summer Palace. We toured the Summer Palace and the surrounding Park. The lake was a bit rough, so we were not able to take the boat tour, but had a great time anyway. (Some of the pictures were included in the last post.)
After we wrapped up at the Summer Palace, we headed back to the Hotel, but on the way we made a side trip to the Night Market. Some of these photos were also in the last post. This Night Market was about 4 blocks long on one side of a busy street, and consisted of booth after booth of some very “unique” culinary selections.
We knew it would be interesting as we approached the FIRST booth, and noticed an older woman reaching over the display shelves, wielding her flyswatter like a samuari! (It was a bit unnerving since she swatted frequently, but never seemed to flick, pick or otherwise remove the little dead buggers!) As we made our way down the street, we saw that most selections were skewered on wooden sticks and typically cooked quickly over open flames. Most but not all – some customers took their purchases raw!
The list of creatures, fruits, and vegetables included, but was not limited to:
Starfish, scorpions, spiders, silkworms, squid, octopus, centipedes, grasshoppers, lobsters, crayfish, snakes, eels, lamb,s hearts, kidneys and livers (Oh My!), beef, sugarcoated fruit, and tofu (stinky, of course!). You don’t see that everyday. We looked but didn’t touch and ate nothing.
Coming soon, more stories to go with the photos of our 2nd day in Beijing – Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Hutong Tour, Temple of Heaven.
In the meantime – more photos…