Friday, July 27, 2007

Excursions to Sights in Beijing

At this conference, also a series of tours had been organized for the participants, providing excellent opportunities for informal networking among the conference participants and at the same time to learn more about the Chinese culture. Several groups left in a couple of busses, and Andreas Holzinger recommended one particular tour guide because he was very entertaining. Andreas had not promised too little - Yiang Lee was very entertaining and upbeat indeed.

The busses stopped somewhere near the city centre, then we walked to the south entrance of the "Forbidden City", the old emperors' residence. It was hot and humid, and I bought a bottle of cold tea at every possible opportunity, of which there were plenty. A vast area is covered by the squares and buildings of this palace area, and the many visitors distributed themselves in the huge empty places.

After the end of the tour, our bus already approached the hotel, but then turned back one block to stop at a silk factory. There, we could see the various steps of silk production, from the cocoons to final silk bed blankets. Another guide explained this process, and afterwards every participant could buy some things, either bed sheets, blankets, or other silk products. Since I do know nothing about silk of fashion in general, this was all lost on me. I could not judge the prices, but they seemed a bit expensive to me: somewhat cheaper than in Europe, but much more expensive than appropriate for the average salary here in Beijing ($200 per month).

Another tour led to the "Summer Palace" at the Western outskirts of Beijing, where the Chinese emperors had build a large garden estate. Again similar temples, palaces, in the same style as the Forbidden City. A nice lake in the centre, with boats cruising on it.

The finish of this your ended in a pearl factory, where explanations about different types of pearls were given, together with the opportunity to purchase pearl products and other souvenirs.

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