We met Kyle and Julia on the Great Wall tour. Before they took off from Beijing, this is what they wrote:
“We went down to the Olympic park today (birds nest) which was quite impressive. They have actually turned the swimming pool location into a water park equipped with a water slides and wave pool for a cost of $200 yuan. We then ventured over to the track at birds nest and were able to tour the track on Segways (first time and very cool, cost 150 yuan). Tonight we had our first duck experience. Although we ended up paying through the nose and had such wonderful delicasies as duck feet, duck heart and shark fin, it was an interesting experience.”
We wished we had more time to try out at LEAST the Segway experience!
The training cost about the same as for GSG private, and Y400 for each day for the 4-hour / day team training, about $64. Amy bravely did five mornings in a row of 2-hour private training training, and the first day with both private and team training. After that, she decided that the team was too far ahead for her to keep up, and opted for private only. It’s still pretty rigorous.
It also didn’t help that Chris gave her his cold, and she did the training while sniffling and coughing. The sports doctor on site prescribed her some cough medicine, a Chinese-based one, that seemed to help somewhat. She even shared it with Chris since he was still coughing! It looked positively poisonous, but she said it tasted better than the Robitussin (which may not be saying much as ANYTHING tastes better than that!). It came in a little vial that had to be punctured at the metal lid on top with a provided piercer, and had little thin straws to stick into the lid and drink from. 7 of the 10 were used, so we now have backup cough medicine.
Chris and Amy have certainly enjoyed wandering about Beijing. Of course, in ten days it’s amazing how quickly we can acclimate and become independent in a relatively new place. Chris has been a bit more timid about going out on his own as he does not speak any of the language, but through Alison, his girlfriend, teaching him a few words during their daily Skype sessions, and his ever gregarious personality, he does well when out and about. Amy’s ability with her Mandarin shows her Lao Shi Jane Sun’s teachings have been well worth the effort and time. She pleased that she’s able to get around more confidently than she first thought.
Both kids have gotten the idea of how much the RMB / Y (reminbi or yuan) cost in American dollars. It’s easier to know how much Y is in $s – for example, Y100 is about $1.20 right now. We usually find the exchange rate listed in the dollar – $1.00 = Y6.68, but that ratio didn’t help as much since we usually passed on Y10 or Y100 and sometimes Y1,000. So, holding at Y10 meant $.12, Y100 meant $12, and Y1,000 = $120. Now, we know that the exchange rate really is Y100 = $14.95, but once we factor in the exchange fee, the ATM fee, it comes out closer to Y100 = $12. Easier math, too.
After Beijing came Shanghai (which was an earlier post), and Xi’an, then Shenzhen and Hong Kong. We briefly toyed with idea of going to Guangzhou, but didn’t have enough time. So many places to see, so little time!
Shanghai was a very brief 2 days, and though we avoided the Expo, it nonetheless, affected us. The Bund was VERY crowded, though that evening was very wet and raining. I’ve never seen so many umbrellas crossing an intersection before! The lights from across the river on the modern side of Shanghai were blurred by fog, that occasionally parted to reward us with lights from higher up on the strangely shaped buildings. The light show on the skyscrapers was impressive. I’ll have to say that China is certainly in love with the ever-changing colors and patterns of lights! In contrast, the Bund, known for the old world European influence of buildings of Old Shanghai, was well-lit with static flood lights emphasizing the architectural points of the buildings. They also had the benefit of being less than ten stories tall. I took many pictures but have yet to find them … they’re probably on one of the four SD cards I am using!
I have posted many of my pictures on Flickr.com – under Glass Magic! Please do go there to see what other views of our adventures. If I have enough bandwidth, I will be uploading my pictures there mainly. If not, I will scatter a few pix here. The majority will be on Flickr.com as I have the unlimited upload there.