Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday in Beijing

This morning we had a bit of a later start, up and out by 9:15. We hopped on the subway to head up to the northern part of the city and the 奥林匹克 (Aolinpike) Stadiums, 鸟巢 (Niaochao) and 水立方 (Shuilifang) [The Olympic Stadiums, The Bird's Nest and The Water Cube.]

After three transfers and a little over an hour on the subway, climbing the stairs, and getting a first view of the stadiums and the throungs of people around them was a pretty amazing site. They are a huge tourist attraction now 6 months after the Olympics; I wonder how much longer they will continue to draw the crowds...

The first view of the Bird's Nest from a distance.

The Water Cube, our first destination. After some adventures in ticket purchasing, we were in to the cube.

The sign reads:

The Timeless Art of Water

Art reflects life


the source of life
a form of art

and the woman somehow is interpreting that in her body language.

Where history was made!

A cross sectional view of the walls of the Water Cube. The ticket is worth the price if for nothing else but to see glimpses of the way the structure is put together.

After grabbing a quick lunch, it was off to the Bird's Nest.

A view of the Water Cube from inside the Bird's Nest.

We went in just expecting to be able to look around, but we were actually able to get right down on to the field. It was incredible!

The group standing on the field of The Bird's Nest!

The group with the Fuwa, the debatably cute mascots of the Beijing Olympics. The Fuwa's names (Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying, Nini) when put together form the sentence Beijing huanying ni (北京欢迎你, Beijing welcomes you). Each of the Fuwa has a great deal of symbolism and represents different aspects of the Chinese culture. [And as a side note, I, Colin Penley, am somewhat scared of the blue one, Beibei.]

A group shot in front of the Bird's Nest.
Merritt and Sarah, and all of the American students, were asked to pose for many pictures today with various individuals and groups of people. And when ever we stopped to take a group picture for ever one on my camera, at least four strangers also took our picture. We are famous! ;)

After the Olympic Venues, it was off to the silk market. Bargaining and gift buying were the order of the day. The silk market is four floors of "designer" clothing, arts and crafts, silk (obviously), tailors, bags, shoes, tea sets, games, swimsuits, sunglasses, watches, Buddhas, pearls, and much much more. The women work there selling stuff are aggressive. You can hardly walk three feet without someone asking you to look at their ties, or buy a pretty scarf for your wife (my "score" for the day was 4 wives and 6 girlfriends.) And then once you look at something and want to buy it, then the game of haggling begins. At some of the more touristy places, they attempt to up prices a few hundred percent. Items that you end up buying for 40RMB start well over 300RMB.

Once we were all shopped out, it was on to the Chaoyang Theatre for an acrobatics show. The skill and artistry of the performers was spectacular. It was well enjoyed by all.

A photo of one of the acrobats in his costume for the finale. I was able to snap this picture in the lobby. The big thing on the floor is his headdress.

Tomorrow morning we are up early and out the door by 7:30 so we can make it to school on time. We are going to be visiting The Second Middle School Affiliated to Beijing Normal University and spending a day visiting their classes. It should be an interesting day for our students to see what the average Chinese high school student's life is like. Then in the evening, we will feast on 北京烤鸭 (Beijing Duck) to celebrate our last night in Beijing and Mitchell's Birthday.

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