After the Great Wall, our tour made a stop at a Jade Gallery for lunch and a little tour/sales pitch. It was actually quite interesting and lunch was delicious so we didn't mind! Andrew and I bought a Happiness Ball, which is carved from a single piece of jade and consists of different layers within each other, that are completely independent of each other. Really cool but hard to describe. It has all kinds of meaning and symbolism and is also fun to play with.
The Ming Tombs was the next stop and this was a neat way to see some of the older Chinese culture. However, it was also freezing, and none of the buildings were heated, so we kept it fairly brief. (Beijing right now is hitting the 20 degree mark, making it the perfect time to go).
|Andrew getting some luck from the luck dragon|
The most interesting thing from the Ming Tombs was hearing about how the Chinese represented heaven as a circle and earth as a square. I'm not really sure what they thought heaven would be like, but I guess I always thought of heaven as kind of blue, and it's just interesting to see how we represent the unknown to ourselves. The tomb part is round, while all the grounds are rectangular.
Side note: The Olympic Stadium is in line with both the Ming Tombs and the Forbidden City, and has the round Bird's Nest (pics soon) on one side and the square Water Cube on the other to create the proper balance. Pretty neat!
After the Ming Tombs we made a stop at a silk factory. The informative tour quickly turned into a sales pitch (surprise, surprise!). One item that was repeatedly highlighted was their pillow. This pillow was filled with the droppings of silk worms, which were not dirty and supposed to be good for you, making it a "poo poo pillow". I'm not quite sure how calling this pillow the "poo poo pillow" was supposed to be a draw, but the sales woman seemed convinced that we must all want one of these, as they didn't even stink at all. Missed out on that one.