Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Harry just left after visiting me and my parents for a little over a week. Harry, for those of you who don't know is one of my oldest friends. I've known him since we were in first grade. We did a ton of stuff while he was here. Mostly we were in Beijing but we also went to Xi'an for a little while. In Beijing we went to all the tourist highlights. First, we went to Tiananmen and saw Mao's body and the Forbidden City. Mao is always fun to see and due to the time we went there was almost no line. I still can't tell if that really is Mao or some sort of wax replica. He looks pretty waxy, but I have no idea how someone who has been dead for more than 40 years should look. The Forbidden City was actually more interesting than the last time I went there since we had a good audio guide. Without the guide after a while all the buildings start to look the same.

The next day we saw the Bell and Drum Towers, as well as the Lama Temple, and the Temple of Heaven. They were all nice, the Temple of Heaven was one I hadn't seen yet, though seeing them all in one day was fairly exhausting. We also went out to one of the best duck restaurants in the city for my birthday which is always good. Next we went out to the Great Wall. The Wall is somewhat outside of Beijing so we decided to try and take a bus. I read online that you could get a bus from a bus stop near where my parents live. We did get the bus, which cost about $2 a person, but it took forever to get out to the Wall and back. It took almost two and a half hours each way. Mostly because the bus made maybe 60 local stops along the way. The Wall was really nice though. The section we went to Mutianyu was a section I hadn't been to. It's in a really pretty area high up on the crest of some hills. You can take a cable car up then walk along the Wall until you take a slide down. It's a really great part of the Wall and I highly recommend it.

We also went to Xi'an the city famous for the Terracotta Warriors. Our flights got pretty messed up both going there and coming back but we were able to see most of what we wanted to. The Terracotta Warriors themselves are really nice, but I think they're a little over hyped. I'm not sure anything could have lived up to how much people talk about them. The city of Xi'an itself though was a nice surprise. The city is one of the few in China to still have an intact city wall. That along with the remaining older buildings of the Muslim quarter give the city much more personality than you usually find in bland Chinese cities. I was very impressed by Xi'an and how much more Chinese it looked than most Chinese cities, which look sort of like Houston.

We also saw the Summer Palace before Harry went back. That was nice though once again I was there on a really overcast and foggy day. Everyone says the Summer Palace is much nicer when it's sunny out but I've never found out if that is true. All in all it was really nice to have someone visit me from the US before I go back. It was also nice to do some Beijing stuff that I hadn't done before and see Xi'an.