|Tiananmen Gate Tower, Tiananmen Square|
This morning we joined our tour bus again for a trip to Tiananmen Square. The bus parked a block away and we walked through a tunnel under the road to cross the busy street. Besides the buildings around the square , a very large screen has been set up next to the "Monument to the People's Heros". This screen shows the tourist sites being promoted. Our guide took us around and explained what the various buildings around the square are. We did not go into any of the buildings, but the tour company sent a photographer to take a picture of our group on the square. They sold the photos to anyone who was interested in a book showing all the places we visited over the last 3 days. It was a really nice souvenir, so we got it.
|Temple of Heaven|
The original itinerary gave us free time on our own this afternoon, but the majority of people on our bus were not interested in shopping on our own. Yesterday our guide suggested that, if enough people were interested, he would arrange an afternoon tour to the Birds Nest Stadium and the Summer Palace. Half the bus raised their hands, so he made the arrangements, got a price, and offered it to people on the other buses as well. We came back from our tour this morning, got lunch at the hotel, then went back down to the lobby to join the extra tour. There were 14 people from our bus and another 14 from the other 3 buses at our hotel.
|"Bird's Nest" Olympic Stadium|
|Kunming Lake, Summer Palace|
Our next stop was the emperor's Summer Palace. This is a series of buildings around a lake, with a temple high up a hill and a few other towers a little distance from the lake. It was a very lovely site and there were loads of tourists there. Of course, most of the tourists are Chinese or Japanese. Our group stands out everywhere we go. A few people from our group didn't want to walk too far here, so our guide showed them a place with a nice view where they could wait for us. One woman sat on a step at the corner of a nearby building and later said she had a great time there. Several people stopped to take her picture and one older gentleman kept staring at her and smiling whenever he caught her eye.
We were in rush hour traffic on the way back to the hotel. Traffic here is really bad - reminds me of New York City, but with lots of bicycles, motorbikes, and an assortment of unusual looking trikes mixed in. Once back at the hotel we had a drink and a light meal at the bar, then headed up to pack. Tomorrow we will be on our way home.