Monday, April 2, 2007

Wonder of the Ancient World

Well, I was laying the predicate in my previous post, for I knew that I was going to Beijing to see the Great Wall of China, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World!

Although they're not all in the same category, I've seen seven wonders of the world already!

I wasn't able to scale the top of the Great Wall (we were brought to the steepest portion) due to the severe heat and my vertigo, but I got close enough to take pictures for that once-in-a-lifetime trip.

I also visited Tian'anmen Square, The Forbidden City, The Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace while I was in Beijing.

I enjoyed myself thoroughly, with a tour guide all to myself because the couple I shared her with were Chinese and thus familiar with all the trivia she was offering, and the other couple didn't bother to show up because it rained that morning. I paid for a private tour for the price of a public tour. Not a bad deal, huh. I oohed and aahed at the sight of so much jade, silk, and pearl in Beijing.

I wished I had paid more attention to World History class in high school so that I could have an intelligent conversation with my Chinese tour guide. Instead I relied on my vague recollections of names and events from movies and books.

I also tasted the famous Peking Duck together with heavenly scallops and broccoli, aromatic fresh tea, authentic noodles and dimsum, and other culinary delights while I was in China. I had memorable meals at a restaurant serving Singaporean cuisine behind the Shanghai Exhibition Center, for they served the best lunch that we had in our four days there. The other restaurants we tried were disappointing. In Beijing, we went to famous restaurants and hotels so it more than made up for the pathetic meals we had in Shanghai.

Shopping was fabulous at Shanghai, however, and that was our priority more than the dining experience, and we went crazy, what with name brands at knock-down prices (the world is made in China, remember?), souvenirs at friendly, bargainable rates, and shopping areas the length of Commonwealth Avenue (from back home in Quezon City).

My travel partner and I worked hard during the day promoting DiscoverPH, a Philippine travel website, during the World Travel Fair, and scoured the streets of Shanghai for great finds every night. We capped each event with caramel macchiato from Starbucks, which somehow tasted so much creamier and better in spring-cold Shanghai than in summer-humid Manila.

Which reminds me, I found that as a good excuse to go to Starbucks, to compare if the caramel macchiato here also improved its taste. I should go on Easter Week.

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