Summer PalaceWell, last night went better than the last two nights. I think I have finally adjusted and have become acclimated to the new time zone. After packing up all of my stuff, I checked out of the hotel and met the rest of the group downstairs. We packed the van Tetris style and went to the Summer Palace. We walked through the palaces and maneuvered our way around other tourists. It seems that from October 1-7th is a Chinese holiday, and most people are off the entire week to celebrate. I wonder why we don’t take advantage of this week-long holiday tradition around July 4th.

After the Summer Palace, we went to the Pearl Factory. Here, we learned how Chinese freshwater pearls are cultivated in the Y Oyster and we also learned how to tell the difference between real and fake pearls.

Summer Palace 2

After that, we went to a Szechuan-style lunch. Here, we ate everything including hot and sour soup, sweet and sour pork ribs, spicy glass noodles, sizzling eggplant, pork bao buns and a lot of other traditional dishes. The kung pao chicken was amazing, and I have to say it was the best I have ever eaten! After lunch, we found a Starbucks, and as some of you know, I love Starbucks. I bought an American-style chocolate chip cookie, a green tea frappuccino and a Beijing travel mug. I have travel mugs from the last two cities I visited in 2012, so I hope to add more to my collection. Mission accomplished! Now I’m off to the train station for the next leg of the trip . . .