I was asked by Leo's boss if I would be a tour guide to his Dad, John for a day who was visiting from Australia for the first time.
I won't say I was excited about it, more like nervous as hell. I could easily have vomited on my way to the Beijing office to meet him. Anyway as it turns out I needed have worried at all, he was a lovely country gentleman and we had a wonderful day together.
I arranged my dear friend Larry to drive us around for the day so we traveled in style.
When I am showing people around I don't really like to show them the real touristy places. My first stop is usually the food markets as I think this shows them a look in to the real China and how the locals go about their daily lives. A lot of people still do their food shopping daily. We are so lucky here to be able to get the most beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables. The Chinese people sure know how to grow fruit and vegetables. My only complaint would be that some things they grow too big, maybe this is so they can feed more people but they sometimes lose their taste if they are too big.
I buy our fruit and vegetables at the markets but not our meat. Luckily we have a good butcher locally where I can buy good meat.
Fish is another thing I don't buy at the markets. After living at Rosslyn Bay and having the best I am pretty fussy about my seafood. There is plenty of choice here but I just don't think they keep it cold enough. Maybe when winter comes I might get game enough to give it a go but at the moment I buy frozen Salmon from Ikea to get our fish fix.
Larry suggested we go to the Winter Palace next as there is a big Lake there which might make us feel a little cooler in this extreme heat. The lake and park were beautiful as all the Lotus flowers were in bloom.
Walking around with John I sometimes thought I was with Leo as he would say things like, "That looks like green panic grass" or "That's that bloody such and such weed". Being a man off the land we got along extremely well and didn't run out of things to talk about all day. I loved all his stories, especially about shearing everywhere in New Zealand and throughout Australia.
Larry had given me instructions to continue walking East past the Winter Palace and then he would meet us at the East Gate. I'm thinking I'm too old to ask which way is East so just thought I would take a punt. Off we went walking, and walking and I'm thinking I can't see any Palace and quietly start to panic to myself. I was worrying I was going to have John walking around for hours on end in the heat trying to find the East gate. I then realized I was on the right track. Seeing the Winter Palace was over 1000 years old it was now just rubble, it wasn't the flash Palace I was imagining.
From there we went out for a delicious Chinese lunch. I had to let John taste the famous Peking Duck and the beer that everyone says is so good. John was not disappointed.
After lunch we went for a visit to St. Joseph's Cathedral in the City.
Then our time was up and I dropped John back at the office so he could head off to the farm with Leo and Paul to see another totally different part of China.