When we arrived at the hotel, the first cars already had arrived. I walked around with three little Dutch flag talking to all the drivers and navigators that arrived. One of the camera teams took a quick shot from me while I told where I was coming from and why I was here. We did not wait until all the cars had arrived. Around ten to seven we decided to walk home because the weather was so nice. At home a send an email to family to ask them to record the broadcast.
Shortly before eight, it was announced that the police did not like the idea of the cars leaving one by one but wanted to escort the cars till outside the city. This is not the first time that this has happened. The drivers do not like it, because they feel it less safe to leave like this, and that it often causes the engines of the cars to become hot, because the police drives too slow. This meant that most of the cars left as one large group. I took some video of this. There was a Porsche that stalled on the exited and the reason became obvious when we saw the petrol leaking under the car. We watched how the car was repaired and around nine we left for home.
We went down to the water front and my mother bought us tickets for the boat tour over the lake. We had to wait some time before the boat returned and before we could embark. At the other end of the lake, the boat laid still for five minutes, allowing us to take some pictures of some of the the peaks of the Tain Shan mountain range.
Back on the shore, we decided to go to the walk to the waterfalls from which the water flows out of the lake. We had to go down many steps before we arrive at a little lake. From there we walked up along the rapidly flowing stream to the waterfall. From there we climbed up to the hill overseeing the lake. Annabel and I decided to walk to the temple, while the others stayed around the area. We followed the path which had been constructed along the waterfront. When we arrived there, we climbed up the path leading to the two "monastries" (picture of Annabel at this point). When we went into the first "monastry", we thought that it was not possible to climb up to the second, but after we made some inquiries, it turned out to be possible. We decided to make the climb although our bottles with water and coca cola were almost empty.
We had to stop several times, but finally (around half past three) we reached the top. Google Earth pin.) It turned out the building was just build over a swallow cave in the mountain, containing some kind of ages old santuary. There was a monk standing besides the table in the middle of the building. On the table was a gong dish, which the monk sounded when we entered the building, and a red candle. Besides the monk there was some kind of player (CD or VCD), playing some music, which sounded kind of spiritual and mystical. There was also a portable TV set. One a plate on the wall it said "phil. Chinese General Taoism Inc." and "Kin Pat Liong Shiao temple". A took a picture of Annabel in front of the building. After some ten minutes we went down. At the water front we decided to take one of the tour boats back to the otherside of the lake. When we arrived there, we could not find the others and decided to walk down to the top of the cable, where we arrived at 15:40 and did find the others waiting for us.
Somewhere along the road we had to pay 10 Yuan per person (except the driver). Not much later we arrived at the top of a hill, from where we could see a radio telescope on one side and Kazakh Yurts on the otherside. (Google Earth pin.) The smell of horses was quite strong, when we got out of the bus, and many children the age of Annabel were walking around with a small whip. Later we saw several of them giving tourist a ride on a horse letting the tourist sit in the saddle, while they were sitting behind them. These children have probably been on a horse back since they very young, just like we here in the Netherlands learn to ride a bike. We walked around a little and returned to the bus to eat and drink a little.
We went over to the gate of the astronomic observation. One the plates, left and right of the gate, it said: "Urumqi Nanshan base. National Astronomical Observatorium Chinese Academy of Sciences. Key laboratorium of radio astronomy." We discovered that it was open to the public and that you could go in after paying 5 Yuan. After Annabel had bought some chewing gum from the person selling the tickets, we looked through a telescope, visited a small exibition (just some photographs), we looked at the 25 meter radiotelescope, which is part of a VLBI network. (Later, I read on the Internet that this radio telescope followed the Huygens probe when it descended through the atmosphere of Titan.) There were some pictures on a nearby wall and the descriptions contained European (German) names, including a reference to Westerbork.
There was not much more to see, and because we did not want to go home immediataly, we decided to drive a round a little. We followed the road along the little stream. At the end of the paved road there was a parking place. On the other side of the stream there were nine flag poles and a large sign explaining that this was a skiing are, but apart from a little house (which served as a 'toilet'), there was nothing to be seen. After some considerations, we decided to take the little road on the otherside of the stream up the hill. On top of the hill we had a nice few of the surrounding. There was also a cable leading higher up the mountain, but the cable looked very incomplete and all the windows of the house besides the bottom pole were smashed. (Google Earth pin.)
On the way back, we stopped near one of the fields of sunflowers to have a look at the many bee hives that were placed there.
After several phone calls and some looking around, we finally found Mrs. Zhou, her husband, their son, with his wife and daughter somewhere on the street in their car. The granddaughter of Mrs. Zhou was already sixteen. She did speak English and soon became friends with Annabel. We followed them to the Beijing Fuchunjiang restaurant (Google Earth pin) where they had reserved a room for us, with a round table and a glass rotating disk. The restaurant was quite nicely decorated in a classical Chinese style. We were allowed to select some dishes, and I picked dishes with beans, brocoli, and asparagus. Amongh the dishes they picked there was also a nice dish with brown beans. During the dinner, Andy started to cause problems again and I went downstairs with him.
When we wanted to leave, it was raining outside. We said goodbey at the doorstep of the restaurant and left for the house of Uncle Lin. Again we had to made several phone calls to find the meteological institute and the house of uncle Lin. (Google Earth pin.) We met his daughter, Xiao-Gui on the street, and just a few moments later, he arrived on bike with some water melon and other fruits. We went upstairs and met with the rest of the family. (Mrs. Ma Ji went home.) Xiao-Gui's daughter is exactly 15 months younger than Annabel and she can speak some English. Again Annabel had found someone to play with. Xiao-Bing, the other daughter of Uncle Lin, has a son, who will be four next week. Uncle Lin has been retired for seven years now from his position at the Climatology Division of the Meteorological Administration of China, but he still is doing research and writing articles. Of course, we first had some water melon and we switched on the television for Andy. We also exchanged some presents.
After about half an hour, we left for the restaurant, where they had reserved a room (with a round table). We were given the opportunity to select some dishes. They also ordered some real Beijing Duck, where you put some pieces of meat in a thin pancake together with some spring onion and plum sauce, and eat the rolled-up pancake out of your hands. I was quite happy about this, so that my mother could taste it. She did like it. Annabel too.
The two sons-in-law of Uncle Lin brought us back with their cars. Mrs. Ma Ji had given them some directions, but after we got of the Badaling Express way at some exit that did not look familiar to me, it became clear that they got lost. Ten times they had to ask for directions, when we finally arrived at the home of Mr. Ma.
We first went to Wang Fujing street (Google Earth pin) to see if the cars of the Amsterdam-Beijing rally were there. But we did not find them. Next we drove to the South edge of the Tiananmen Square and looked over the square till the flag pole where we watched the change of the guards. Then we walked back to the car, but first went to McDonalds and bought two Happy Meals for just 25 Yuan.
Next we went to the forbidden city. The driver dropped us at the "West Flowery Gate" (Google Earth pin). From there we walked to the enterance at the South of the city. Somewhere in the middle of the city, Ester Visser (team 13, rallyteam Ladies First) approached us. She recognized us, but could immediately remember from where. When we told her that she met Annabel and I in Urumqi, she remembered again. We talked a little with her. Quite accidentially that we ran into her.
In the palace garden we sat down for some time and had some ice cream and potato chips. We left the Forbidden City through the North gate, took the subway to the other side of the street and went into the Jingshan park. We climbed the mountain, but did not see much, because the tower at the top was closed because of renovations. At the North side of the mountain there was an area with green grass and some trees. We saw several squirrels and Annabel took some pictures. (There was also a girl that wanted a picture.) It was about a quarter to four that we left the park through the west gate (Google Earth pin). While we waited for the driver to return to the car, I bought a Tourist Map of Beijing.
We parked the car near the cable in Badaling (Google Earth pin), which we took up the mountain. From there we walked to the top, which was still quite a climb, especially for my mother. (Google Earth Pin.) Mr. Ma bought a copper plate for Annabel with her name engraved on it. Then we walked down till the gate in Badaling. After a short resting time, we walked back to the car, which was still 800 m.
We drove back over the Badaling Express way and went to the McDonalds in Changping (Google Earth pin) where we again bought two Happy Meals. After we finished them we toured around a little and also went to the stone quarry up the mountains behind the unit where the house was (Google Earth pin) and I took a picture of Mr. Ma and Annabel there.
The plants in the front garden had grown high, and the grass in the back garden looked ruined by the extended dry period. I guess we will have to sow some new grass next spring.
After we opened the suitcases, I realized that it might take as long to unpack them as it took to pack them before we left. A lot of things, I simply left in a large brown carton box to sort out at a later point in time. Around nine o'clock in the evening, I started our computer after having reinstalled the hard-drives, which I had removed. It started without problems.
I did have some interesting conversations with a niece, who had discovered that certain autistic traits (she mentioned Asperger's Syndrome) did run in the family, and that she felt that I, at least when I was younger, also displayed these traits. She remarked that I did not like to be touched, which in a sense is correct. It is also true that I do not like tight clothing and shoes. It is also true that it took me a long time to learn certain social skills and that I had some difficulty discerning non-verbal signals, not in the sense that I did not notice them, but that I tended to trust the verbal signals more than the non-verbal signals. I always contributed my problem with non-verbal signals to the fact my nearsightness was only discovered when I was seven. My niece also was nearsighted, and we discovered that we had the (almost) same prescription for our glasses, really funny, she could look through my glasses without problems.