We spent two of our days in the city Jixian. It's a smaller city near the wall where our hotel was located. The area where our hotel was found was super fancy. And the hotel was equally so! It was a Marriott and possibly one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed in!!!
Check out the lobby!! that chandelier was unreal. and SO large.
our room was very modern. besides the bathtub in the middle of the room. that was weird.
You could pull screens around the tub and toilet- but it was strange.
Here are liz and I using my selfie stick. Kent got it for me for my birthday in Kyoto! and everybody else with us bought one while we were there in China.
this was the view from our room. overlooking the pool and a lake.
the pool and hot tub were pretty snazzy and huge as well. Our hotel and the area surrounding it were such a vast contrast to the areas around the Great Wall where people lived in hand laid stone homes and small alley homes.
I forgot my phone at breakfast here- but it was AMAZING. one of the best breakfasts I've had. These preserved duck eggs were not the highlight- but I did steal a friend's picture of them :) The breakfast was a hug buffet of every delicious breakfast food you can imagine. French toast with nutella and dragon fruit, waffles, cereals, pastries, fresh omelets, fresh fruit, and the list goes on and on. It was wonderful. and I think we stayed and ate and ate and ate for over an hour.
On the Friday before the race- our travel company had a tour available for an additional cost to go check out some tombs a couple of hours away- but we decided to ditch the tour because we wanted to explore without being surrounded by hundreds of people! I did a bunch of research before hand and we found an incredibly old temple and a pretty cool looking shopping district/town square to check out.
The Dule Temple has buildings dating back to 984 AD. So so old.
Dule is a Buddhist temple- similar to a lot of the temples in Japan. The Chinese seem to like brighter colors and more cartoon like features on their statues. Their incense sticks look like giant fireworks.
selfie stick shot!
I love the happy buddha statues. I'm on the hunt for a good miniature one for our house!
the temple was almost completely empty and eerily quiet even though the streets were bustling and loud. In Japan- the big shrines and temples like these are almost always crowded.
Inside the giant pavilion was this incredibly tall buddhist statue.
these pictures can't really show just how tall the statue was. I would have taken more from better angles- but we weren't supposed to take pictures. It was so strange because in Japan if there were signs indicating 'no photography'- people would be so obedient- but here nobody seemed to care! all of the Chinese were taking pictures of everything. And I realized that I just went along with them.
the Chinese people seem to disregard any rules they don't like. Driving was CRAZY. It really appeared that there were no laws. I certainly didn't see a single turning arrow anywhere. cars just dart out ahead of people. and EVERYBODY uses their horn!! a horn honk is like a grumpy greeting in china! we were told that whoever was 'in front' has the right of way. China is my type of country. You can just cross the street whenever you see a break in traffic. or even if you don't see a break! I would fit in so well. Sometimes the order and obedience in Japan KILLS me! if there aren't any cars coming- can't I just GO?! and seriously- no left hand (equivalent to right in the states) turns on red?! even if there are no cars coming?! the longer I was in China- the more I felt at home :)
we jammed all five of us in several taxis on our trip.
and for this picture- we just jumped out of the taxi and took a picture in the middle of the road!
After the temple visit- we wandered the streets and shops near the city square. and took pictures with the locals!
and, of course, we ran into our stinky, friendly, and Italian friend, Roberto! I think he wore his running shorts the entire vacation.
the city square was beautiful. The architecture was so unique and the buildings seemed so old and intricate.
and most of them had little seats attached on the back for children.
here's a grocery store we stumbled upon! we bought all sorts of goodies here- but we stuck to everything prepackaged and familiar.
I did buy a bag of cookies from this little corner shop, though. I didn't find any fabulous desserts in China! It was a little disappointing. I've noticed the same thing about Japan, though. They don't do desserts particularly well. which is unfortunate, because desserts are my favorite. Unless they are made of green tea or red beans.
Here are some more pictures of all the buildings in the main square.
after wandering the city for several hours we stopped at a thai restaurant for lunch. we had freshly squeezed watermelon to drink- and all sorts of other delicious dishes to eat. we even got sucked into a Chinese movie playing about a man in search of his kidnapped son. It was a pretty good movie :)
oh, and I love this picture! we found this big group of older Chinese sitting at tables playing Mah Jong! we stayed and watched for awhile- but this lady was NOT happy that we were taking pictures.
and here's a street from the city. Nothing like the glamorous hotel we were headed back to. Seeing different parts of the world make me realize just how vast and diverse this Earth really is. It also makes me realize just how different but also similar we are as human beings.
this last picture I love, too. Foreign money seem so much like monopoly money to me. and that's dangerous! it's so easy to spend when the conversion rate isn't familiar and the money is brightly colored :)
All I've got left to blog of our trip is our final three days in Beijing! but there are still SO MANY PICTURES!