These are photos from touring Beijing and area.

Touring Beijing


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We started our day in Tiananmen square - the largest public square in the world (supposedly).
There was a massive number of people there (10s of thousands would be my guess) although our
guide tells us that more than 1 million can fit in that square. Here's one of the last yuan notes
we hadn't seen yet - the 100 RMB note. This is the Great Hall of the People.

Video of Tiananmen Square



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Randall and the Tiananmen gate tower to the Forbidden City.


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Natalia and I and the entrance to the Forbidden City.


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Natalia and I with another couple of Chinese at the Tiananmen square.


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A map of the Tiananmen square area. For more about the protests of 1989 that occured on this square,
see HERE .


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Natalia, along with Sisi our guide and a security guard with Mao looking on.


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Ah, good old father Mao.


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Natalia inside the gate of the Forbidden City .


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Can you see the smog inside the city?


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Inside the Forbidden City.


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Can you tell it was a little warm there? Our guide did not know about the controversies going on
there about the relics and the damaged plate. The home of the old Emperors was quite impressive although
really, it's a huge group of buildings where the Emperor lived with his thousands of concubines. I'm sure
there would have been a lot of drama back in the day. It makes sense why there still are so many soaps/TV
shows from this era. We learned about the Empress Dowager Cixi and how she pulled strings to control 3
emperors. She is also called the Dragon Lady.


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I thought the rooflines were really impressive of some of these buildings. As well, the freshly painted
woodwork always impressed me too.


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The number of animals on the roofline dictates how important the resident is.


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Nati and I and some neat rooflines around the Forbidden City.


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The emperor's bed. Clearly, he would have had a few of these sprinkled around the Forbidden City with
all of those concubines.


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Both Nati and I really liked the rock garden idea. Natalia likes it since it looks cool. I like it
since I could probably boulder around my yard.


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Me at the Northern Gate, the gate of Divine Might.


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"Oh hey Natalia, do you need a ram card?" I think they mean a memory card.


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We had lunch near the Summer Palace , which was quite impressive for the size of the site as well
as the fact that 70% of it is a man-made lake that was dug out by hand.


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Natalia and some pretty lotus plants.


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This is the Long Corridor, a '>700m covered walkway at the back of the Summer Palace.


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Natalia and I in the Long Corridor.


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One of the impressive dragon boats motoring around Kunming Lake.


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The marble boat, a pavilion at Kunming Lake.


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Natalia jumping onto a dragon boat.


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The front of the dragon boat.


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Natalia and I at the Seventeen Arch Bridge. Again, can you tell it's hot?


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Natalia and our dragon boat.


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Some of the ridiculous number of tourists walking over the Seventeen Arch Bridge.


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This little kid took an interest in the sweating white kids.


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I liked the lions on top of the bridge.

Kung-fu show


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A slow drive back through the city in traffic brought us back in time for our 515 kung-fu show.
This kid was the star of the show and he sat perfectly still while all of the patrons took photos.


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Some of the kung-fu show. The show itself was very impressive with lots of coordinated moves,
yelling, and flying work with scarves through the air. Breaking of wood and metal on the athletes'
head, feet, and bodies was pretty unbelievable.


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We went to Quanjude for Peking duck. Here is where you choose your duck.


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We had a table of 8 to ourselves.


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Our master duck carver prepping our duck.

Our chef taking apart our duck at Quanjude



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Some of the various fillings we put inside our duck pancakes.

Natalia making a great duck pancake


Heading to Mutianyu at the Great Wall of China


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An hour of driving took us to a cloissonné 'Beijing arts and crafts' location in the NE of Beijing.


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Some rooster cloissonné.


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A map of Mutianyu area.


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Some info about the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall.


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We took the cable car up to the top of the wall.


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Natalia and I at the Great Wall of China .
There is no real agreement on the actual length of the wall, but estimates place it somewhere
north of 8850 km. It's claimed to be the only man-made object visible from space, but of course, no
astronaut's ever claimed to have actually seen the wall.

Video of walking the wall



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We chose to walk until we ran out of wall.


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Natalia and the Great Wall.


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We took photos inside one of the fortifications.


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Natalia and I at the Great Wall of China.


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Natalia and I walked the whole section that you can see behind her.


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Randall and the Great Wall of China.


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Natalia, Randall, and the Great Wall.


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Natalia and I at the Great Wall.


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A view of the greenery around the wall.


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We really enjoyed the walk of maybe a few km, but an irregular surface and 1200-1500 stairs meant
this was a warm outing in the heat.


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Natalia was worried about the stairs.


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I tried to get a view of how steep the stairs were.


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Natalia thought the stairs were a little steep, especially at 40 degrees and 100% humidity.


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The Great Wall of China gets the Paul Perrault stamp of approval.


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The area around Mutianyu is much more mountainous than I was expecting.


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Randall at the Great Wall.


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This was our Christmas card this year. I love the locals watching me.


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To infinity and beyond.


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Natalia looks only a little bit red here.


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Me and the Great Wall of China. I was so pleased that the weather worked out on this day.
The smog in the city was ridiculous when we left Beijing, but out here, it was terrific.

Video of the view from the Great Wall



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The last of the Yuan notes with the 5 RMB note.


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Natalia and I walking down more stairs.


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Looking down the other direction.


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We both sweated through our clothes and were happily surprised to find icy water and cold beer
as well as a popsicle for Nati.


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No ice chest or power, just judicious use of shade and low temp freezers I guess.


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A little better look at the steep stairs on the Great Wall. The wall itself was as monumental as I
expected and I'm really glad we went to see it.


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For lunch, our guide Sisi chose to drive through the lush hills over to where the Ming tombs are.
This was done mostly to get us into a jade 'government' shop to sell some carved jade. 2 in 1 day was
a little much although it was somewhat interesting to see the place where the Beijing Olympic medals
were done. I didn't know that they had jade around the back.


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To Natalia's credit, she bought nothing at this shop.


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A crazily huge jade carved ship.


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A couple of jade stags that are about my height. These were 180,000 RMB.

Touring around the Olympics site


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Natalia at the Water Cube .


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Natalia at the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium .


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This might be one of my favourite souvenirs I bought. It clearly reads 'I love Beijing'.


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I love Beijing THIS much!


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Just in case you didn't get the point of my shirt...


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Natalia and I at the Water Cube.


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A couple of the Olympics mascots.


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These guys would chase around the little kids all over the Olympics green.


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Three of the mascots who were running around as it was the 3 year anniversary of the Beijing Olympics.


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Natalia got a photo along with one of the mascots.


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We then had possibly the worst meal of our trip at a little 3 star hotel called Rainbow hotel.


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We had a full dish of onions with very little pork as well as a terrible dish of celery and some kind of sausage.


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Next, we had our worst performance at the Beijing Opera. 4 performances of 'classic' opera pieces
of kid's banging pots and pans as well as throat singing and bad acting. Well, something had to be the worst.

Video of Beijing opera


More video of Beijing Opera


More video of pots, pans and opera


One more of the dissonant singing


This one made my ears bleed - check out the subtitles


Our last full day in China


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After some fun bargain shopping near our hotel where I found my brother a Patek and Natalia found a number
of velour track suits, we went for a rickshaw tour through the old hutong areas.


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Our rickshaw driver was working hard to pedal us around.


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Inside one of the quadrangle houses called Siheyuan .


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A couple of door knockers that I thought were cool in the hutong.


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At least this bathroom had separators!


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This bar is called '31 bar' and it says, "No need to hesitate, come GET drunk".

Video of a local singer at the Temple of Heaven



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We then walked through the Temple of Heaven , which was a park area and structures built for the
emperor to honour his 'dad' - God.


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Natalia and I at the Temple of Heaven. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a magnificent
triple-gabled circular building, 36 meters in diameter and 38 meters tall, built on three levels
of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests. The building is completely
wooden, with no nails.


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Natalia and I decided to try to take a photo like all of the other Asian tourists. For whatever
reason, older Chinese couples absolutely NEVER smile for photos. It makes me laugh.


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For our last dinner in Beijing, we hit up one of the local restaurants near our hotel and I finally
got the green bean dish that I loved so much in Sichuan province AS WELL AS an excellent dish of
chicken and peanuts and chilis. Yeehaw!


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These were some kind of wacky jelly balls for dessert. And that's all of the thousands of photos that
I took in China!

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