Day 7: National Centre for Performing Arts + Hutongs Tour

Tuesday morning saw the group visit the National Centre for Performing Arts, one of the four most outstanding landmarks in Beijing. The building is amazing and they had some very cool interactive rooms where the lights changed as we moved. The lake made the building look like it was floating, was actually the roof when you got inside.

In the afternoon they had a tour of the Hutong area by rickshaws – an old working class Chinese settlement within Beijing. A “Hutong” is a kind of ancient city lane typical in Beijing where the number of hutongs may have run into several thousands. Here, workers live in a typical Chinese house with carved doors; the neighbourhood is laced with canals crossed by small bridges. Hutongs are found around the Forbidden City, many of which were built during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. This is Chinese life at its most traditional and gives a fascinating, behind the scenes glimpse into the lifestyle of the local people.

In the evening they also tried Beijing’s famous roast duck. Peking Duck has the reputation of being the most delicious food Beijing has to offer. The best roasted duck is date-red, shining with oil, but with a crisp skin and tender meat The chef then cuts the meat into thin slices, each slice having a piece of skin. The meat is served with very thin pancakes, Chinese onions and special sauce. The way to eat it is to coat the thin pancake with sauce, slap on a few pieces of meat and roll up the pancake. Chopsticks are optional: it is much easier just to grab the thing with your bare hands!

This afternoon we all shopped for our presents for family as well as for ourselves. What a lot of fun and tiring, this was. Two lads managed to get a more than reasonable bargain on these two pairs of basketball shoes. One is Lebron 16’s and the other is Air Jordan 2’s. That is what the boys told me anyway. At my age I can only go with them so apologies if not correct. See all you fabulous parent on Thursday. We cannot wait.

– Graeme
Bargain shoes!