Farewell Beijing, Hello Fuzhou

It's time to say goodbye to Beijing. I have really enjoyed the 2 1/2 days that we have stayed here. Beijing really seems like a nice place, full of culture and history.

Everyone in Beijing seems really nice. At all of the stores and restaurants, you're always greeted kindly. I don't know if it's just the places that Joe took us, but everywhere we went, there was always someone at the curb waiting to open your door and help you. Even in all of the hussle and pushing of the way they drive and all of the honking that they do, none of it is done in an angry tone.

Looking around, the place is landscaped very nice. There are trees everywhere, colorful flower arrangements in many areas. The buildings show their history, both new and old. A lot of the local stores are open air stores where the front of the store is wide open, like you would see in a shopping mall, except these are right on the side of the street. They often only have one or two lights in them, so they are real bright. I also noticed a lot of areas have police or security people standing at attnetion. This was not only at some of the landmarks, but at some of the parks and other areas as well.

I think it would be fascinating to come back to Beijing in a couple of years and see how much has changed. Right now, there is a lot of construction and I'm sure they're doing a lot of work cleaning and preparing for the Olympics they will be holding in 2008. The tourists attractions will look awesome in just another 2 years because they are getting a lot of them renovated before the Olympics. The colors and the detail they use in their designs are vibrant and beautiful, and they appear to stay true to the original. I really look forward to coming back sometime after the Olympics and seeing all the renovations that will be done.

If you ever come to Beijing, I would recommend that you have a tour guide. It makes it a lot easier, even though many of the people do speak some english. I personally like have a private tour guide, and I didn't think it was all that expensive to do. It cost us just over $300 each to have Joe as our private tour guide, that included 3 nights stay at a 4 or 5 star hotel, 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners, travel around the city, entrance to all of the sights and a wealth of information that is priceless. Even in a group tour, you would learn a lot.

We're now ready to move on to another area of China. The culture is going to be different, the looks will be different. We will no longer be in the Capital city where they cater a lot to the tourists. It will be interesting to see what some of the differences are. I'm looking forward to seeing the changes, although I have loved my stay in Beijing.

Joe met us in the lobby of the hotel at 5:40am on Sunday, May 14th. He helped us get checked out and we left for the airport. We had to check our luggage this time because they thought one of our carry-ons was a little too big. Joe handled all the tickets and everything up until the security check point where we said goodbye and thanked him again for all he had done for us and taught us. He had been an excellent travel guide. We went on through the security check and made our way to our gate wher we waited for about an hour. Our plane took off right on time at 7:45 and we were on our way to Fuzhou.

2 hours later, and after breakfast on the plane, we landed in Fuzhou. We found our luggage and started out of the airport. There weren't nearly as many people waiting to pick people up here, and we found Amy, our next guide, immediately. She helped us get our things in to the van and we started out for our hotel. The weather is wonderful, warm and sunny.

The drive from the airport was about an hour and fifteen minutes, but it was neat to get to see the countryside. Shortly after leaving, we saw several farmers working the land. They still do their farming by hand instead of having all the big equipment that we have now. A little bit later, I saw several people that looked like they were laying cement for a parking lot or something of that sort. They were mixing the cement themselves and putting it down. There is a lot of team work and manual labor here in China, and it's even more obvious in Fuzhou than it was in Beijing.

The houses look a lot older and simpler as we drive. Getting in to the edges of the city, there are a lot of apartments anywhere from 3 to 10 stories high. On each of the balconys, you see clothes hanging out to dry. Even in the middle of town, the buildings aren't as modern as a lot of the buildings we saw in Beijing. Most of the shops are in small, old style buildings like some of the ones we saw in Beijing. One thing that hasn't changed from Beijing, the driving. It's still the same way, whoever can push in or through, gets to go. The big difference that we did notice is that there are a lot more scooters or moped type vehicles for getting around instead of bicycles. There were still several bicycles as well, but not like there is in Beijing.

The hotel we're staying in is the Lakeside Hotel. It is a 20 story, 5-star hotel. The front and back of it is all windows and it's a beautiful building. The front side overlooks a large lake, the back overlooks a park.... we, of course, got a back room. I'm sure the rooms overlooking the lake are a lot more expensive.

Amy helped us get checked in and went through some of our paperwork to make sure we had what we needed. It was nearly noon so we went to the hotel restaurant to have the lunch buffet. This was another big change! We are now in a coastal city, therefore there is a lot more seafood to choose from, and we're not real big on seafood anyway. The shrimp looked cool, but I wasn't going to try any.... it's cooked as is, you get the eyes, feelers and all. Even the few beef and pork dishes they had tasted different. We definately liked Beijing food better than what we have found here so far - but I'm not going to be quick to judge, we'll see what else we find.

After lunch, we walked around the area a little bit, past a lot of little shops. The trees lining the roads are done the same way here. The store owners aren't as pushy here as they were in Beijing. These are all your small shops, open to the air. They may watch you go by, but they don't come out trying to sell to you walking down the sidewalk. It was nice to get to see the area a little bit, but we needed to get back to the hotel and get ready to go get Tyler.

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