After our ride into Beijing on modern roadway we (group of 5) arrived at the parking area of the Temple of Heaven and were met by Qing Ye, our guide for our time in Beijing. Qing Ye majored in English at university so we had little problem understanding her when it was “story time”, frequent stops for her to tell us the history of the places we saw.
We returned to the van and drove to our restaurant for lunch all ordered by Qing Ye. Naturally rice with beef and peppers, pork and vegetables, fish in sauce and dumplings with water and beer. It was delicious. From here we proceeded to the Summer Palace to see this fantastic place. After walking through the whole area and the long galleries we had a sit-down on our cruise on the dragon-boat. A stop at a Hutong (poor people’s housing) where we rode around the area in trishaws (electric). We were really tired at this point and our day was about over except for our van trip to the Penta Hotel through traffic like we had never before seen. Qing Ye got us settled and she took off for her one hour subway ride home.
Next day we meet Qing Ye and the driver at 7 AM for our second day of touring Beijing. Traffic was light this morning so in minutes we were climbing down from the van at Tian’anmen Square where masses of people were lined up to see Chairman Mao’s body in the mausoleum specially built to house his body after his death in 1976. We did not do that. Such a mass of humanity! So we walked through the square to take some photos and listen to “story time” before taking the underground passage from the square to the gate of the Forbidden City. Mao’s picture is on the gate as shown frequently on TV. The picture is replaced every September 1 so his appearance will always be fresh. Entering the Forbidden City where the emperors lived and worked brought us some more “story times” as we walked around and through the complex of buildings, gates, gardens, pagodas, moat and beautifully colored roofs. This was all morning and we were pretty tired after all this walking. From here we went to the Hutong where Qing Ye’s family lived to have lunch in a local restaurant after seeing the house and meeting Qing Ye’s mother (who served tea), her aunt and her 2 year-old son who was delightful and learning his colors in English. Lunch was again rice, spicy fish, pork, broccoli and eggplant with beer. We all tried our hand at using chopsticks to great amusement. It was now time to say our goodbyes with lots of hugs to Qing Ye and start our journey back to the ship at Xingang. It was a two and a half hour trip.
Qing Ye was an excellent leader and her story times interesting and entertaining.