On July 1, we started the day by visiting the Beijing Zoo to see the pandas. We had special access which allowed us to go behind the scenes and watch them feed a panda while doing a wellness check.
After we visited the zoo, we headed to one of the older neighborhoods in Beijing called a hutong. These are single story traditional houses built together to form a neighborhood. Many of these hutong areas have been torn down to make way for high rise apartment buildings. One of the tourist attractions in Beijing is to ride a rickshaw through a hutong. I always love this! This is the place where you bargain for cheap souvenirs. We had a guy follow us on a bike the whole way trying to sell things. I got some great deals!
This is the Drum Tower which was used to warn the people of enemies long ago. We were not able to go up it this time.
We were able to visit a lady's house in the hutong. Her dog sat on this tv tray this whole time she was talking. We learned that her family was known for their snuff bottle paintings.
Our delegation manager, Duan, tried to do a little painting in the snuff bottle. It was much harder than it looks!
Everywhere you looked people were selling watermelon. We were served watermelon at the end of every meal for our dessert. I wonder how many watermelons the country of China went through in one day?
Our next stop for the day was the Summer Palace. It is an immense place complex located on the outskirts of Beijing on the beautiful Kunming Lake.
This marble boat was built for an Empress who was afraid of the water. She wanted to be able to go "out" on a boat without worrying about it sinking.
We were able to ride in a dragon boat across Kunming Lake.
On our way to the train station, the traffic was blocked. We learned that it was the President of China's motorcade.
We arrived at the train station to take the overnight train to Xi'an. The train station was very busy!
An overnight train ride is always an adventure. Luckily, we were in the first class section. However, our bathroom was nasty! I had to hold my nose when I went so that I would not throw up. I also got to walk through the other classes to check on the boys. They were very crowded and very smelly!
Here is our room for the night. Two bunkbeds for the leaders.
Not much room to move around on the train.
After a very short sleep, we arrived in Xi'an the next morning (July 2) to sweltering heat!