Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tian'anmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall

Our first program day in Beijing started with an introductory lecture from our academic hosts, the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB), related to investing in China. It covered various categories of and legal frameworks for investment, as well as other big-picture items.

After the lecture, we set off on a tour of Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City. (Our hotel was located about two major city blocks from Tian'anmen.) Due to the ongoing 60th anniversary celebration of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Square was a sea of poeple and celebratory displays.

We set up for a class picture with the Forbidden City entrance as a backdrop, something that seemed wildly amusing to some of the tourists: they set up in a semicircle opposite us and starting taking pictures...and then we started taking pictures of them taking pictures of us. A camera duel ensued:

For some reason, this is one of my favorite pictures from the trip--a solider with Mao's picture and the entrance to the Forbidden City in the background:

The feeling of being surrounded by history is simply unbelievable within the forbidden city. These Fu Lions (Guardian Lions) are from the Ming Dynasty.

I'm surmising that the rating system I encountered in the Forbidden City is somewhat less historical:

After playing tourist for the afternoon, I decided to try a Chinese massage: 90 minutes for 160 Yuan (< $25). The foot massage (which started with an herbal foot soak) was quite good, but the rest of the massage was only so-so. So I decided to try another one the next day!

After the second day's lecture, "Globalization of Chinese Companies," from the dean of CKGSB, we headed to the north-western outskirts of Beijing, to the Great Wall.

More history-saturated coffee-drinking:

The best-timed rainbow I have encountered in my entire life. A sublime scene:

Dinner on the Great Wall, done good and proper. (No room on table for food!)

After returning from the Great Wall, I met up with the tailor who was making my suits in order to do a final fitting. Good progress on one, but the other wasn't yet ready for a fitting before I departed Beijing (it later turned out to need some tweaking, which will have to be performed here in the U.S.). I also took delivery of my $15 (!) custom-made dress shirts, all of which fit perfectly.

After the fitting, I tried another massage. This one was perfect--it took my neck and back a solid two days to recover from it. :)

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Charlottesville, Virginia, United States