By Donna Evans, President and CEO of the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce
Bright and early we headed to the Temple of Heaven, built in 1420 A.D., where the emperors prayed to heaven for a good harvest. After touring the grounds we visited a large jade factory. I didn’t realize that there are so many colors of jade. The intricate carvings show an incredible amount of artistic talent and patience.
Next we went to the Great Wall, something we’d all been waiting for. The 4,000-mile long and 2,000 years old construction is said to be the only man-made structure visible by the naked eye from the moon. We were fortunate to have a sunny, clear day and the visibility was excellent. I’m happy to say that everyone in our group made it to the top! The people living in higher elevations had a distinct advantage over those from lower ones since we are used to the change in elevation. It was truly an amazing sight to see the amount of labor that it took to build the original wall and to hear the stories about the history.
Next we visited the Ming Tombs, one of the 13 Ming Emperors’ Tombs is fully excavated and items are on display. The emperors believed that you could really take it with you and the tombs are filled with treasure. On our way back to the hotel we drove through the Olympic Village and had the opportunity to see The Birds Nest Stadium and the Water Park. They are truly works of art. The architecture in general in Beijing is complex and interesting. It is a modern city. I was also struck by the amount of trees, many planted because of the Olympics, and how clean the city is. It is much cleaner than many large American cities.
We ended the evening with a business dinner with distinguished government officials. Local performing artists welcomed us with the traditional Dragon Dance and the staff at the restaurant were dressed in traditional attire. From the attire to the meal, it was a very authentic Chinese experience. At dinner the dignitaries welcomed us, encouraged us to do business in China and to bring business people back with us on our next visit.
Tomorrow we have an early flight to Shanghai, drive to Suzhou and stay at the 5 Star Suzhou Marriott Hotel. In the afternoon we will go sightseeing to the Tiger Hill & take a boat ride on Suzhou canals.
Tips if you go:
Wind–March in Beijing is very wind. Be sure to dress to block the wind.
Water–Don’t drink the water, even in the hotel. Bottled water is the only way to go.
Luggage–Be sure to bring larger luggage than you can fill on the way. Those wonderful souvenirs take up much more space than you think they will.
Sweetener–If you use sweetener in your coffee, bring some. It is not readily available.