Hello from the Ying-Yang Gang!
Sorry for the delay of Saturday's blog, but we did not have Internet access on last night's train.
We started our final day in Beijing by visiting a Cloisonne factory. Here we learned how the skilled crafters make their products on a tour with our local guide, Herbie. After observing the making of this copper based, porcelain painted decorative art, we were able to shop in the gift store that contained over 20,000 items that ranged from 4-foot vases to the most intricate jewelry.
Next we had the opportunity to visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Wall of China. No words could describe this breath-taking experience! After taking a group photo at the foot of the over 2,000-year-old-wall, we took a deep breath and began our trek to the top. Much to the surprise of many group members, the climb was no easy feat. The worn-down steps of all different sizes and heights ensured that the view from the top was well earned.
After climbing back down, the group headed to an authentic jade museum where we learned all about the different types and uses of China's most precious stone. We enjoyed another nice Chinese meal, followed by some time to shop for jade and pearls in the gift shop.
On our drive to the Temple of Heaven, we stopped for a picture at the "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium and the "Water Cube," where Michael Phelps earned his 8 gold medals. At the Temple of Heaven, we were able to experience the true Chinese culture. Group members played Hacky-Sack, watched karaoke and card games, and even danced with some of the locals. Participating as opposed to observing, as tourists, was a highlight for many.
After this great cultural experience, it was time for supper. We were free to eat at any restaurant of our choice, and most group members chose America's finest cuisine.... McDonald's and Pizza Hut. We had some free time to shop in one of Beijing's largest shopping markets, Silk Street Market. Quite an amount of money was spent as group members found (or made) bargains galore.
What an exciting close to our stay in Beijing! You'll hear back from the Ying-Yang Gang in a few days.
Ben Arteman, Illinois
Dustin Baker, Michigan
Sarah Beaver, Iowa
Courtney Clapp, North Carolina
Willie Elgin, Virgnia
Brian Gottlob, South Dakota
Amy Holman, Virgnia
Andy Mason, Florida
Jill Petersen, Nebraska
Pete Thome, Minnesota