Day 4, our last full day in Beijing. Our plans for the day include a meeting, a visit to the Olympic Tennis courts and then a trip to the Royal Cusine Museum to see how Emperor’s ate many years ago. Our trip to beautiful Beijing is going so quickly, I can’t believe it’s already time for day 4-A Royal Banquet!
This morning we had a meeting with the Minister for Tourism and Mr. Wu from China International Travel Service and our entire tour group.
I was asked to give a speech and had hastily written it the night before, I talked about how travel companies need to create a narrative with travellers and not rely simply on traditional advertising but to involve the media, especially new media, in telling stories that moved the audience and sparked their interest and curiosity in discovering a new place. I even slipped in a joke about Dirty Dancing!
We had to deliver our speeches around a UN style table with a microphone and name plaques, there was even an interpreter primed every paragraph or so to translate our musings into Mandarin for our distinguished hosts’ benefit.
All in all, although I was beyond nervous, it was a very satisfying experience and made me feel quite grown up.
After the meeting we dashed off on the bus again to lunch and the heavens opened- it rained all day and evening until the next morning.
Our choices for lunch were from foods usually reserved for everyday Beijing residents and we found them quite delicious, there was a spicy cauliflower dish bubbling away in its own little pot, the flames keeping it toasty. A tomato and egg soup, beef with ginger, chicken and nuts, rice (of course) and courtesy of Bob, one of our group, an ice cream to finish off our meal.
Next, we drove past the Olympic birdcage and water cube and on to the China National Tennis Centre. There is an international school on the site and we were able to walk through the halls, catching a glimpse inside different classrooms to see students working on math problems, being introduced to STEM activities and even watching a movie. Their cafeteria was amazing and was called a coffee shop, which brought to mind mini grade school coffee yuppies, arguing over the best Colombian blend.
We then went to see the world-class tennis courts but alas they couldn’t get the lights to come on, so we stood in the dark on the courts that The Williams sisters and Novak Djokovik have played on, but we couldn’t see a thing.
Next on the agenda was the Zhongguancun Hi-tech Exhibition Center, it had some neat concepts especially patents designed by the students on site.
Our last stop of the day was to the Chinese Royal Cuisine Museum, where a beautiful young woman dressed in traditional clothing, including really impractical shoes, showed us the types of foods the Emperor and Empress would have eaten centuries ago. Intricate designs and miniature models carved out of fruits and vegetables, too precious to eat but just right for royalty.
We were then led into a beautifully decorated private dining room where we were treated to many traditional dishes, radishes carved into beautiful flower buds, a sticky rice pudding with dates and sugar, a whole fish, a deep-fried chicken, baby bok choy, mushrooms the variety of which I had never seen, spicy potatoes and …..rice!
A troupe of women dressed in the traditional costumes came and danced a few numbers for us, including a costume change into a traditional Mongolian dress.
We arrived back at the hotel feeling weary and knowing we needed to pack before tomorrows departure.
The bus will be picking us up at noon, I have been debating whether to have a massage and just loaf around the hotel in the morning or whether I should try to squeeze in one more awesome activity before leaving, I have the guide-book out and am weighing up my options…