We spend approximately two and half days in Beijing, which is not a lot of time to see the huge city and country’s capital. One of the purposes for the visit to Beijing is to get over our jetlag and get used to the 13 hour time difference between Milwaukee and China. Another was for the Vice President of Academic Operations at Concordia University Wisconsin, Dr. Michael Besch and Christine Kao (see previous blogs for her job description) to see the MBA program at Beijing University up close. While Beijing University does not have a sister school relationship with Concordia, the university does offer some of Concordia’s MBA courses.
While Dr. Besch and Kao visited Beijing University, the others in the group, including myself, visited some of the spectacular sights of Beijing. One of the first stops on Monday morning, 6/13 was The Summer Palace. This place is breathtaking. It gave me a real sense of just how extensive and complicated China’s history is. The architecture is nothing less than stunning. Our tour guide from Beijing University, Peng, was very knowledgeable about the history of Beijing and guided us through the Palace.
During our time at the Palace I was stopped several times by people who wanted their picture taken with me. I definitely stand out. You don’t see too many redheads in China. In fact I haven’t seen one since my time here, now over a week. I told King, one of the MBA students on the trip who is helping to translate for us, to tell people that I was Brad Pitt on vacation in China. It was all quite amusing.
After The Summer Palace we took time to see the Olympic venues, the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, up close. I couldn’t believe that I was looking at the structures that dominated the world just one year earlier during the Summer Olympics. I was in complete awe of where I was and what I was looking at. As we walked from the Bird’s Nest over to the Water Cube our guide told us what it was like to be living in Beijing during the time of the Olympics. He talked about how hard it was to get tickets to the events and some that did ended up selling them for a huge profit. I found out pretty quickly that the average income for a citizen in China is about $3,000 to $4,000 a year.
From the Olympic venues we went to the most amazing buffet style lunches I have ever experienced near the shopping district of downtown Beijing. This buffet spanned several rooms and had more than 400 items on it, so I was told. There was everything on this buffet, even their attempt at pizza although it was quite the same as in the U.S. There was even live entertainment which I found just fascinating. We couldn’t stay long at the buffet because we had an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in the afternoon that we didn’t want to be late for. I had arranged for our group to take a quick tour of the Embassy and to visit the gift shop so we could pick up some items.
The U.S. Embassy was located in a new building near the other Embassies. Our contact there, Doug, told us that they moved into the new location back in September because they need more space. Security was tight and one member of our group wasn’t able to get in because she forgot her passport, despite being on the list. We made our way to the gift shop and took a few minutes picking out the items we wanted to purchase. I was able to get the logoed shirts that I wanted and was glad they had the sizes I needed. Upon leaving we talked a bit more with Doug about his experiences in Beijing and he gave some history of the city and things to see if we had time.
Keeping with our schedule we were now off to Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City. I was really looking forward to this stop. Ever since the 1989 uprising at Tiananmen Square it has been an infamous location. To be able to see the spot would be amazing. We arrived at one end of the square and walked to the other side which led to the entrance of The Forbidden City. The square was so vast that it took us nearly a half hour to walk it. It was quite impressive. To see the huge picture of Mao Tse-Tung above the entrance to The Forbidden City was another one of those surreal moments.
We toured The Forbidden City and everyone in the group took a lot of pictures. We learned about its history and the significant role it played in China’s history. It was another spectacular sight in Beijing and there was still plenty more to see, like The Great Wall. Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. I will post more when I can. Share your thoughts with me at firstname.lastname@example.org