Day 3. Beijing Zoo, a pearl market, Summer palace, Olympic venue, tea, acrobatics.

Again a cool day, no more than 20°C. Ingrid slightly unwell but nevertheless coped relatively well.

At the zoo the main attraction was the giant pandas (who turned out to be pretty dull creatures, mostly lying still or perhaps eating at best). Then we took a walk in the park while Ingrid had ice cream. I was a bit surprised to see them charge extra for various parts of the zoo – at first it felt sneaky, but on the other hand I guess it allowed them to keep the gate fee affordable for more visitors.

Next we went to a pearl market, about which I don’t have much to say, other than that it had lots of pretty, shiny, expensive things.

The Summer Palace was a large park, of which we only saw a tiny bit. The buildings looked quite familiar by now, similar to the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. And there were the familiar crowds as well. But unlike the Forbidden City which mostly consisted of large paved courtyards, this was a very pleasant place with a large lake and beautiful gardens. I would have loved to spend more time here. (Now much of my attention was taken up by Ingrid, who was rather whiny and impatient.) The two most eye-catching sights were the Long corridor (which really was very long, and beautifully painted) and the marble boat.

On our way back into town we took the road past the area where the Olympic games took place. The main Olympic stadion looks, in real life, pretty much like what I’d seen in photos.

Then we went to a tea tasting and demonstration. Tea is not really my thing, but they did have a nice Oolong with ginseng.

Finally, in the evening, we went to an acrobatics show by China National Acrobatic Troupe at the Tiandi Theatre. This was a grand experience. There were the usual numbers (contortionists, juggling, vertical poles, jumping through hoops) but also a slack wire act (which I’d heard of but never seen). This was amazing: the guy managed to do a headstand on the wire, as well as unicycle on it, etc. No photos allowed, unfortunately.

Ingrid adored the show. We’d expected her to fall asleep (she was really tired this late in the evening, plus slightly feverish) but she was on the edge of her seat, totally absorbed. Then she showed us all sorts balance tricks in the minibus all the way back to the hotel, and asked if we would go back to the circus the next day.

By the way, I am getting very tired of rice + pak choi, which is pretty much all we (the vegetarians) were served yesterday and today. And I used to love pak choi. It seems to be their equivalent of a vegetarian lasagna (which is the vegetarian staple at many lunch restaurants in Sweden). And they all serve sliced watermelon as dessert – even Ingrid (who usually loves watermelon) is getting tired of it.