Subject: Re: Help with Beijing...

We visited Beijing for three days in mid-November a few years ago and it was chilly but sunny and not uncomfortable. Jeans and jackets weather. We felt safe at all times and found the hospitality of the Chinese to be wonderful. If you stand on a street corner with a map in hand, you will make new friends as folks come up to you to offer help.

We took a day trip to the Great Wall (the Badaling portion) which stopped at a ceramic atelier. Thoroughly enjoyable. We also took a tour of a hutong (arranged through the tour desk at our hotel). These are the ancient neighbourhoods of the city which are disappearing under modernization. I have recently read that they are being bulldozed, in part because the Government wants to clean up the city in anticipation of the Olympics, so there are only one or two remaining. They will become museum pieces very soon, so you may want to see them now while there are residents there.

We spent a lot of time just walking around Beijing stopping at unlikely places like the "Red Lion" pub where the staff spoke no English, the Forbidden City (sterile but every visitor must see it), beautiful Beihai Park, Tienanan Square (the size of the square is overwhelming), the Russian Market (it may no longer be around), and Embassy Row (where we found western food and western staff in the pubs and restaurants!)

Enjoy Lucy, Toronto