It was time to say goodbye to Guiyang today. Our hosts checked all our bags from the hotel to the plane for us so all we had to do was ride the bus to the airport and board the plane. Waiting at the airport we received several copies of a fully produced hardbound book of photos from our trip as well as a DVD for each of us containing a PDF copy of this book. The book outlines our itinerary and showcases many of the best pictures taken throughout our trip by Guiyang’s staff photographer. Their staff must have staid up all night to put this together and get it duplicated for each of the 70 of us. This is yet another example of Guiyang’s overflowing generosity.
We may never be so well treated again. From the police escorts, to free shows, generous gifts and elaborate meals – we all grew accustomed to royal treatment and we also recognized that as soon as we left Guiyang, we weren’t going to be honored dignitaries any longer.
When we landed in Beijing we said goodbye to the rest of the Fort Worth delegation and hoped a bus to go see Tiananmen square, the forbidden city and the great wall. Our new guide, Eric, explained that we had a whirlwind trip ahead and that we could do it, but we needed to walk fast, and basically not ask any questions. We all were okay with the arrangement and he was not kidding.
Before we stepped off the bus he explained how to say, “Boo Yow” to the venders which means, No. I don’t want any. He further explained that many vendors had several tricks that made them untrustworthy and made us promise not to buy anything from them. He also said, Do not make eye contact!
We complied and although we saw how many vendors there where and how obnoxious they were, they could tell we weren’t buying so they gave up pretty quickly.
We marched through the square at a pretty good clip. All the way, Eric provided expert high points about some of the buildings. Most memorably he commented on how the buildings were Russian designs and he lightly touched on how even today China seems to take its cues from Russia.
Just past the vast square, is the gate to the forbidden city. This forbidden city is the largest square in the world and was called forbidden because only the emperor and his close family and sergeants could enter. The vast size of this area is staggering. He said they had renovated a lot of it before the Olympics in 2008 and had used several tons of gold just to paint the buildings.
Eric told us how the bricks we were walking on we’re over 600 years old and that there were not once, but 15 layers of them so that assassins couldn’t possibly tunnel through. He also described in vivid detail the process by which a unic lost his equipment. It was both fascinating and terrifying.
There were thousands of people milling around the forbidden city, many were very pushy and not what we consider to be respectful of personal space. Luckily we were prepared for this very Chinese view of personal space and lines. As amazing as these sights were, it was quickly evident we all enjoyed Guiyang SO much more. Part of that is that we were treated so well, but another part is that Guiyang seems so much less spoiled by tourism. Guiyang is so remote that it remains a great deal truer to its past instead of overt run with hoards of people.
Several people comments about wishing we hadn’t left Guiyang. We were all glad to have seen the sights of Beijing, but after Guiyang it was a let down of sorts. We miss you, Guiyang!