16 October 2011
Team Chopper Conquer Beijing!
We awoke from our afternoon turned evening barbecue haze just in time to scarf down roughly 376 pieces of egg and chive pancakes before it was back on the bus for our dramatic return to Beijing. The first hour wars calm, cool and collected. We were zooming along winding country roads at what felt like the speed of light, horn occasionally honking away just for fun. Then, just as we reached the 6th ring road, our inertia pulling us forward came to a screeching halt. We were back in the city and traffic was TERRIBLE. Thankfully, we were all still on a "buddy" love fest high from the night before so we filled the time going on about how much we love each other. Except for Rodney.
By noon we were at the Summer Palace taking in the sweeping views across the pristine lake to the brilliant Buddhist temple set high up on the hill. You could understand why it made such a perfect summer retreat. Just 20kms outside the city, there was something very "oohhhhh...ahhhhhh" about the place. Weeping willows, col breezes, and a genuine temperature decrease left me wishing I could summer there!
The afternoon found us eating. And eating. And eating. Oh, and sleeping and martial arts-ing too. It was hotpot lunch followed by afternoon naps followed by the wild and crazy tastes of Donghuamen Night Food Market! Some of the boys met us there, as they were busy fulfilling their dream of having a suit tailor made to fit in just 2 days. Its always something with these blokes! They then fulfilled a second dream of scarfing down scorpions, snakes, starfish, and sheep's testicles! We finished the day with a martial arts exhibition and what can only e described as the most perfect foot massage of all time. I won, sharing with Daryl and Chris while the rest of the gang bunked up in other rooms. We could hear Michelle's cries of pain from the down the hall.
We started the last day of our Chinese adventure on Saturday with a visit to Tian'an'men Square. There is something quite intense about standing on the site of such a significant moment in modern history. So much has changed since then yet the entire experience feels so real and so recent. Our next adventure was riding the subway. You can only imagine what it looked like as we - 15 very white tall foreigners - traipsed through the underground network. 8 days in and we were doing it like the locals: heads down, elbows up, and charging forward! They didn't stand a chance.
Next up we didn't stand a chance as the lot of us hopped on bikes for a leisurely midday cycle through the manic roads and charming lane ways of old Beijing. Once again we found ourselves heads down, elbows up only this time we had some serious speed and a vehicle that could inflict a more serious blow. Still, it's safe to say that Beijing won on this one.
We finished the day in true Team Chopper style - shopping until we dropped at the pearls, bags, clothes, and electronics market. I can safely say, without question, that this group of people is having a measurable (and sizable) affect on the Chinese economy. I still don't understand why Paul, Pete, Rod, and Brendon needed so many handbags. Something about matching all their different shoes, I guess. Shout out to Ben, who got the best deals. I have ever seen on pretty much everything he bought. Woohoo!