Promptly at 9:30 Ling Ling collected us on a lovely sunny day for our first stop at Tiananmen Square. Hard to believe the scale of the place and the sad fact the locals demolished one of the gates of the Forbidden City to build a horrible monument to the unlamented Chairman Mao. There has been little consideration to the retention of old stuff until very recently.
Today included visits to the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven, both wonderful World Heritage areas about which much has been written about far more eloquently than I can. Neither were what I was expecting and both were really quite eye opening. Ling Ling managed to slip on the steps at the Temple of Heaven and fell firmly on her bottom unfortunately she bruised both ankles in the process which rather slowed her down. The gardens surrounding the Temple of Heaven were quite ordinary except for the number of locals engaged in all kinds of things, cards, singing, waving streamers, strange group clapping activities and other spring afternoon entertainments.
By about 4pm our visits were complete and we headed for an ice cream at Pizza Hut (our guides suggestion). Actually not too bad. We had to wait until 5:15 rather than return to the hotel as we had been booked in to go to the Red Theatre and a Kung Fu show.
Again this was not what we'd expected and turned out to be the legend of Kung Fu and a quite spectacular dance and acrobatic show. No one else needs to spin around on silk curtains again for my benefit during this trip.
Dropped off at the hotel we had time to change our shoes (smelly socks let me say) and head downstairs for a well earned drink. We have the idea that there's little chance of a glass of wine for madam at most of the restaurants hereabouts.
This certainly turned out to be the case at nearby, very famous (apparently) Mongolian 'hot pot' restaurant which against the odds was still in operation despite being half demolished. The food was strange and one of the waitresses took pity on us showing us how to make it all work. There were even stranger foods on sale further down the street however (sea horses and scorpions on stick for example (see photo).
We did wander into one kind of department store afterwards and were offered tastes of Green Tea biscuits (quite nice but one is all you'd ever need) the opportunity to buy some kind of chemically activated hot pack that the girl claimed was complete with medicinal properties and a steam activated trowser cleaner which we certainly need but did not buy.
Departure for the Great wall is 8:30 tomorrow so an early night is called for.