urgh... this computer is soooo slow. ok, so this internet cafe is a bit cheaper.. and it is half a block from our hotel but this web connection is awful! today was a rough day in beijing compared with yesterday's trip to the forbidden city. our goal today was to take care of the travel arrangements for our trip to Xi'an and we tried to get to the train station first thing so that we could enjoy the Summer Palace and another temple.
the problem was that all of us needed to exchange some USD for some Chinese yuan. sounds easy enough, right? we thought it did too. we spent all morning trying to find a bank that would do the currency exchange for us. what a total hassle. unlike shanghai where you could exchange money on each and every block on certain banks in beijing would help us. by the time we took care of that and got our tickets it was about 1:30. after a decent lunch we decided to try to visit the palace still. we took a looooooooooooong walk in the steaming hot china sun and finally made our way to a boat tour that travels to the palace.
which meant more walking. after spending a good 3 hours checking out a marvelous palace we decided to be decadent and have our peking duck at the famous peking duck house in town (they have pics of george #1 and barb eating here as well as fidel-- but not together!) but the bus ride that took place afterwards was the bus ride from hell. literally i stood on the bus for about 30 minutes completely packed together like sardines. now i wonder why my legs are throbbing! thankfully dinner was wonderful. the duck was sooooooooooo tasty that it was to die for but it was pretty expensive. we ended up paying about $125 US for three people. i think the meal was worth it but there was some squabbling among people on how/how much we were going to order. not good.
oh well. my half an hour of internet time is almost up. got an early start tomorrow morning-- got to head the great wall. now that should be exciting! take care and talk with you all soon.