6th - 13th August 2004.

Beijing is the capital of The People's Republic of China.  It is very different from the rest of China with modern shops, clean streets and high rise buildings.  We travelled here to meet up with Lee Stanley and his family. We didn't know that it was peak Chinese holiday season and that all 1.3 billion of them would be on holiday in Beijing.

Lee (with somewhat large hair) helps hold up the portrait of Chairman Mao just outside the Forbidden city.  

This picture was taken shortly after Jason and Lee had been set upon by some random drunk bloke who decided to throw punches outside our hotel. Jason is now nursing a very sore hand. We are not sure about the bloke who was left lying under a bench somewhere after Jason failed to throw him over a fence. That will teach him for trying to push Claire around!

None-the-less it was a fairly strange first day in Capital.

On entering the Forbidden City we realised it wasn't quite so forbidden anymore. It was impossible to get any good photos or a space just to stand and relax on your own.

Claire reliably informs us that judging from the pervey looks she was getting, they weren't all eunuchs in there either, as they were when the Emperor lived here with his wives and concubines.

Lee managed to find a headress that would settle down his big-bad-afro-day in Behai Park. Where we subjected to a rather unusual boat ride.

The next day we visited the Mutianyu section of the famous Great Wall of China. It was fantastic despite the misty views.

The summer palace was very busy but pretty amazing with some of the greatest contemporary-indigenous-people-watching we have ever had.

Katty and her family were super hosts and let us have tea in their house.  Katty also took us for the best meal we have had in ages which obviously included a gorgeous Beijing duck!

Lee gives Helen a present for her great interpretation over the 5 days that we spent together.

As you can see the language of love needs no interpreting and Lee received a special accompanied ride to the airport.

The boys were left alone for the night to check out Beijing nightlife. Unfortunately the chosen night was marred by China losing 1-0 to old-friends Japan resulting in most people either going home in a tantrum or drinking themselves into a stupor.

Tequila is apparently difficult to order in some bars and the local bar tenders suddenly don't speak English when told that we would rather drink our piss than drink that crap they were trying to palm-off as Tequila.

On our last day we were Stanleyless and ball-and-chainless so we had a meandering visit to the Temple of Heaven in the morning before heading back to Tiananmen Square in the afternoon.

We learnt nothing after finding the museum to hard to get into and spent the day marvelling at what a cultural reset can do to a nation.

Jason had to drag Claire into an acrobatics show called Reverie.

Whilst not enough women were wearing bikinis it was still an amazing show (once you got over the freaky woman bending themselves into unbelievable positions - fffnnnrrrr ffffnnnrrr). The spinning plates, gymnastics and 40 odd women riding a single bicycle was a fantastic reflection of modern day China.

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