So officially, our tour started today, although we wouldn't have a group meeting until 6pm so the day was still free. I met Helen (wales), Noreen (Ireland) both from my tour and Andrew (england via spain) who I'd gone out with last night and we headed off to the Temple of Heaven.
Some of the temples/palaces are starting to blend into each other but this one still had some impressive features and was good to see.
Today is new years eve and so the fireworks started about 11am and didn't really let up, in fact they are still going off a bit more sporadically but there is still the odd unexpected bang or crack that makes everyone jump.
After the summer palace I wanted to go to the Pearl market whhich was across the road from the gate through which we entered and the others were happy t ofollow so we had a good half hour - 45 min walk around the outside of the grounds and then when we got to the market the damn thing had closed for spring festival so we just grabbed a taxi back to wanfujing st and found some "fast food" (noodles) for lunch.
I also sshowed the others the little market Mel had shown us and they marvelled at the (lack of) hygiene of the little stick stalls but no one was game to try a sea horse on a stick despite my generous offer of 5 yuan (about 80cents) if they were game.
Then we headed back to the hostel and had some relax time before we (girls) needed to meet the rest of our tour at 6pm.
Our tour is quite a good mix of people and as usual an example of how small australia (nth qld) is, with a couple from Atherton here who's daughter went to uni with girls from Mt ISa and they know friends of mums as well...
There are 16 of us break down as follows...
3 Kiwis (couple(24) and a friend 29)
1 girl from Wales (19)
1 girl from Ireland (30)
1 boy from Oz (22)
1 girl from Oz (19)
1 boy from England (25)
1 couple from england (25)
1 couple from Atherton (older, their daughter is 25)
3 friends from england - girls (22)
After an hour and half of being told how many nights we would spend in each hotel finally it was time to head out for dinner and tonight would be Beijing Duck at a pretty flash looking restaurant. After catchin the bus we walked about 10 minues pausing along the way as people set off fireworks on the footpath and we tried to stay out of the way.
The tour guide also gave us the very valid warning (too late for me) to be careful about regulating the bodies temperature with temps likely to be very cold outside and very warm inside. Probably would have helped me a few days earlier... but at elast I was a lesson for everyone else.
Dinner was phenomenal with soooooo much food including two ducks per table, which we;d thought necessary when our guide asked as i knew thats what the 6 of us had devoured earlier in the week but we didn't know how much other food he was going to order. We found out later that he;d intentionally overordered due to it being spring festival and having left overs meant we would be abundandt for food in the coming year. (suffice it to say I think I now 16 people who won't be going hungry for a quite a few years to come...
AFter dinner we headed back to the hotel, killed an hour or oso before going back outside again at midnight to see the city sky light up with fireworks (mind you the sky had bee n lit up all night but nothing could p[repare us for the barrage at midnight, and all night long...
Its amazing that a proper coordinated show in australia costs million s of dllars and lasts maybe 10 minutes or a few more yet here people have car loads of fireworks and produce similar shows for much less cash. Not safe of course :P