Not to our surprise, all five of us woke up at 1:30am feeling ready for the day. The kids and Ken took some melatonin and I took the quiet time to do a little bit of blogging and photo uploading.
We did all end up going back to sleep and then woke around 6am. We headed back to McDs for breakfast, feeling a little more confident in ordering this time. Ken got some Starbucks and we waited in the lobby for our ride. Since we had a thunderstorm during the night, the skies were clear and blue.
We were pleasantly surprised when a nice, clean Buick minivan pulled up with an English-speaking guide plus a driver.
They drove us about an hour and a half to The Great Wall Mutianyu. We wanted to visit Mutianyu because of the ski lift up and the toboggan slide down. Be sure to check out our photos.
After a couple of hours at The Wall, our guide, Freiya took us to a countryside restaurant not too far away. On the way, she explained that she's a government guide. The restaurant was a "government" restaurant as well. While our food was being prepared, we were given a tour of a place where they make copper/enamel vases.
We had an excellent Chinese-style lunch, then headed back to downtown Beijing. Our driver took us by the Bird's Next and Water Cube on the way to a tea place to learn about Chinese Tea Culture. We truly enjoyed this part. The kids' favorite thing was learning about "Pee Pee Boy." Chinese test the water temperature by pouring water on a clay "Pee Pee Boy." If the water is hot enough, he will "pee." Yes, we are now the proud owners of a Pee Pee Boy as well as a nice tea cup.
It turns out, these tours are "free" because the government wants tourist to learn about these aspects of Chinese culture. The guides are rewarded for taking tourists to these places. We were happy to be taken to these places and had a great time.
Freiya said that many people in Beijing don't feel like they need many "things". They are happy to have a small apartment and be able to do things with friends such as play poker, sing karaoke, and go swimming. Of course, some people are materialistic, but for the most part, this is how it is in Beijing. Ken and I talked about how, as the country develops more and more, along with the positive changes, there will also be negative changes. I'm afraid one of these may be that the people become more materialistic like Americans tend to be.
Please check out our pictures. They tell a much better story than I can put here in words.