After visiting the Great Wall of China, we stopped for lunch at one of the neighboring restaurants. It was obvious enough that they were catering to tourists, given its vicinity to the Great Wall. The food was mediocre at best, but they provided us with no fewer than nine dishes. Bear in mind that there were only four of us at a table, so a lot of the food went to waste.
Attached the restaurant was a gift shop and some other store. You’ve got to love how the Chinese decide to translate the names of their establishments, because it never really comes out right. The gift shop attached to the restaurant was called, and I’m not kidding, the Friendship Store. Is it wrong that I think of Mortal Kombat II for some reason?
The next destination was the Ming Tombs, a remote location where 13 emperors from the Ming Dynasty are buried. As we walked through the national monument, we passed through several gates, each representing something important, but I wasn’t really paying attention. The long and the short of it was that this is the final resting place for some rather important people in Chinese history. Oh, and the buildings are very old.
The next day, we were brought to the Forbidden City, a palace where several Chinese emperors once lived. In fact, it was here that the last Emperor commited suicide. It’s a little surreal visiting cultural landmarks like this, because the buildings are over 500 years old. Even portions of the walkway have remained untouched during that time. Yes, the Egyptian pyramids are much older than this, but you won’t be able to find anything in Vancouver that’s been in the same place for 500 years. It really felt like I was seeing reconstructions or replicas.
Although I’m not of Northern Chinese descent, it was still quite the experience to see some of China’s key historical landmarks. In the end though, I found that most of the buildings looked kind of the same. They were good to see, but it got boring after a while. I’d probably appreciate the experience more if I knew more about China’s history.
On a side note, Beijing’s drivers are a little suicidal. They don’t appear to show any fear whatsoever, weaving in and out of traffic, taking advantage of the smallest gaps imaginable. As confident a driver as I am, I don’t think I could drive around in Beijing without having several heart attacks.