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PTR: Bill's Epic 3 Weeks in China w/TPR!


Nrthwnd
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Well, here I go with it.

 

I spent 23 days touring China recently, with a small TPR group.

It was The Longest TPR Tour I had/have ever done, to date.

It was The Tour With The Most Group Meals - Ever.

It was The Tour With the most Sad-And-Pathetic Credits, tsk.

 

It was - a very amazing tour, very intense at times, and always

always challenging, whether it be the tour itself, the weather...

...or China.

 

So - I have done something different with this TR, and recorded it on both of the cameras now/still in my life: my old dependable (still) Pentax that still photogs with f-i-l-m in it. And my newly aquired Canon PowerShot.

 

I hope you enjoy the mix of the two - and next year's tour I plan to be going Full Digital, ok? And out there, somewhere, I know that Jeff Johnson is smiling.

 

But first - a final Western-style breakfast. Eaten at one of Canada's finest and newest airports....YVR!

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I am going to miss a plateful of breakfast, like this one, before flying to Beijing. Or will I? Stay tuned...

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^ yes Bob, it's True!!! (SEE PHOTO of me and....it)

Local franchise (London Drugs) still sells and

processes film. And puts it on a disk, too.

They have known me, thru the years, heh heh.

 

...and ^^ Yes of course it isn't over yet.

Not even started.

And wait till you see the "Liste de Triage,"

che che.

 

 

 

(EDIT To Add: Sorry Benoit. Best French I could

come up with. My oops. Enjoyed Disney with you!)

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Me and My Canon. Powershot. And after this tour, I - am - a - belieever!

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Early Arrival Day

 

After an overnight flight, several of us arrived at Beijing airport

to find out our first hotel had been changed, literally, in the last 24 hours!

 

So, with that knowledge starting this adventure off, we

headed to our new 'residence' for the next several nights.

 

Everybody got to their rooms, enjoyed the layout of them (well, I did)

and then reconvened for the first of what would become an all-too

familiar event....The Group Meal.

 

And then, back to the hotel, catching up in the lobby, to bed.

And getting up for the next day, when we are reminded, and then get...

 

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Outside our hotel was some interesting wall work and landscaping, if a bit 'wild'.

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The room - was - mmmm - nice. View wasn't much, until the night.

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View the other way, toward the bathroom. And the "Devider Screen"!

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And the separate tub (from shower) with The Screen 'open.' Impressive gadget, lol.

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Those of us gathered to go out and eat together, for the first time.

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Awww - don't we all look great! And the meal was nice too, an interesting mix of local and Western foods.

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After dinner - back to The Lobby for immediate electronic useage and happiness.

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And the waters kept bubbing, under the lobby's staircase, into the night. I liked that touch.

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Actual Arrival Day & Add-On

 

So the next morning, people were still arriving, and Elissa and Robb were already sorting out the days/schedule's activities, before reminding us (as we were emailed about, before we left for China) that there were no leaving and meet-up times on this tour's schedules! A first for a TPR tour! We were given morning meet-up times, sometimes even a few in advance, we met in the hotel lobby ready to your, and/or had locked and loaded out luggage on the bus, and then off we went for the day's adventures. So with schedules in hand, we headed out to...

 

This add-on day included a number of small parks, with usually only one or two coasters in each. The sad-and-pathetic (s-a-p) kind of coasters right? Dragons, or Wacky Worms, a Golden Horse Spinning Mouse here and there. And sometimes a larger coaster or one we/I could definitely call...different.

 

After the touring day was done, we then headed to what would be the first of many, many, Group Meals on the tour.

 

And after that, back to the hotel, rest and prepping for a Big Cultural Day, the next day... The Great Wall and Forbidden City!

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Nothing like a lobby chendelier...still lit up in the early morning, lol!

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Elissa and Robb, organizing and ongoing planning for the day-week-tour.

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Beijing used to be a "walled city", and this part of 'the wall' was close by. Unfortunately, the brickwork was not original. Even history needs upkeep now and then.

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Most of the group, getting the tour schedules and latest Alvey Information!

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And...we're off! Out the hotel, onto the bus, and on our way to....

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"I think that's a coaster there", as seen thru the tour bus.

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Um - honestly? I started forgetting names of small parks, right after this one, lol. Names of coasters, too.

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But, a credit IS a credit, yes? And - we rode it, shameless.

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Haven't seen a smaller version of these things before. Wanted to try, but didn't have the time.

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We had to get back on the bus to get to another small credit! And in doing so, caught a glimpse of a "future park" we'd be getting to, soon.

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And I think it was this Mouse, that had the distinction of housing a wasp nest in the brake run of the ride. Nice touch we thought.

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And - some of the interesting architecture we saw, along all our routes to more credits and culture. This actually looked like an observation tower without a theme park.

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And - welcome to Beijing World Park! Mainly consisting of iconic world architecture, etc. And a coaster too! We also did a group lunch here.

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Um. I won't say anything else. But I think a little updating is needed, here. Felt wierd at the time, seeing this.

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And there's the London Tower Bridge with fountains, right?

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Here's David, tucking into his lunch meal.

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Now - guess which is which, and what is what. We couldn't, and mine is the bottom plate.

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And here we are, enjoying our food. Yum.

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Then it's bye-bye to Eiffel, and we're off to ride a few more park coasters. After that, it's a Culture Stop to see....

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Not a Group Meal, but a demo of tea!

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And here's the other end of that long table, with our 'demo person' and various teas, pots, cups....stuff.

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And this is what happens when some tea buds fall into hot water - they bloom! Quite the trick.

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And after our group dinner, it was back to hotel. This was the night view from our room.

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I remember the food being somewhat generic after a while in China. Wasn't bad and I sure didn't lose any weight while I was there but a lot of it tasted the same. Lots of chicken and fish with very little beef.

 

I think I'm starting to crave chinese for lunch today!

 

I think China has been the only place I have seen the opening partition between the bathroom and the bedroom.

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^ eep.

 

Actually, I think this first hotel we had was the only one with

such a glass separation 'window & blinds'.

 

But now it's time for ~ A Culture Day! ~.

 

And basically, it was touring The Big Three in the Beijing area:

The Great Wall of China; Tienammen Square; Forbidden City.

 

But, before all that we did one of the few "Factory Tours"

included in our China schedule, this first one being for the jade

industry, which was actually very cool to tour thru.

And sigh over, heh heh. Really beautiful carved pieces!

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Wait - this doesn't look like a "Great Wall".... (Actually, the work area of the workers who do the magic with jade.)

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This jade is precious. The guy told us so! Actually it's how to tell a male lion from the female, in this pose. Any guesses?

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More talk about jade. But what caught me eye here....

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...Was this beauty, in a yellow jade! Gorgeous.

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Same room, back-up shot. (o;

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And then, into the Display/Gift Shop. That was how it was laid out for all of the "factory tours." Gift shop at the end, heh

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I liked this one.

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And now - needs no intro. Although these were at the base of every street lamp and pole we passed by, lol.

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We are here - somewhere.

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But first, you must pass through "The Land of Smelly Bears", before getting up to the wall.

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Wait - this doesn't look like The Wall, either! Damn close, though.

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And this part of Smelly Bear Land. Pay to throw them cut fruit. And they dance, stand up, cajole you for it, too. Smart bears!

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But wait - THIS looks promising.

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Looks like It to me, I'd say.

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Looking down a side of the mountain. Not very clear....clouds, fog, dare I say it? And look at the CROWDS on this thing!

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A nice view of where you can walk, if you really want the exercise, lol. I decided, no.

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Had to have one with myself in it, yes?

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And for the final "Great Wall Touch", Joli pointed this out to me, just as we were about to leave and head down the hill..... omg. And then I saw it EVERYWHERE. Freeky, but a nice touch, heh heh.

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And continuing on, on our "Culture Day"...

 

Like the Great Wall just toured before, coming

to this Square and This City... I never imagined

I would be doing this kind of international

travelling and seeing things I remember seeing

in books, on posters, in displays.

 

And for that, THANKYOU Elissa and Robb!

 

Forbidden City had many many STAIRS and

rooms to view. Tienammen Square was an easy

walk-through, compared to The City. But we got

through it, and got a good workout, all the same.

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But before all that touring, we did a Group Lunch after The Wall. And I discovered another beautiful chandlier...and Ben discovered an awful-tasting Chinese liqueur he HAD to have more of, lol!

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And I love architecture, especially buildings grouped together like this, in '3's, lol.

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This was the first building we saw, making our way to The Square. I forget what it was originally used for.

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Looking into The Square from across the street. And I see you, Mr. Chairman! And those 'things' in front, look like leftover 'themeing' from the 2008 Olympics, I bet!

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Of course I have to include myself in this 'historic occasion' (to me).

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And once you pass through that building, you are faced with The Forbidden City...and thousands and thousands of stairs to climb!

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But you get to see some really old rooms, that haven't had Room Service in decades, lol!

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And this was one of the Royal Bedrooms. Boy, we're nosy hmm?

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And look who got a really cool personal souvenir there! Waytago Brian!

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Near the end of it all. Waiting.

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And we exited through a massive rock garden! Thanks Wall, Square, and City!

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^ I agree, totally.

 

Every time we turned the corner at the end of the tour,

into the gift shop area, there they all were,

ready to follow us all around. Freeky as well as creepy.

 

I started going 'tunnel vision' just to avoid continually

saying "No thankyou" to whoever asked me about anything.

 

But I must admit, we are their economic support system,

so I bought small stuff, here and there.

 

But - what I really want to go back to, is - The SILK SHOP!

 

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Time to hit a couple (or more) parks, hmm, yes?

 

These two are important to me, because after the first,

the second had my #500 Coaster in it!!!

 

And yes Bjorn, if the parks had been reversed....

 

So first up - Shijingshan Park.

 

It doesn't really look that 'kept up' landscaping-wise, when

we toured through the place. A bit run-down IMhO. But it

still had an abundance of credits (10!), although 3 of them,

well, they had their reasons...

 

1) Broke down, falling apart, can't fix, left to rot. Closed.

(Spinning Batman)

 

2) Not there. Where it was supposed to be. Gone. Closed.

(Crazy Mouse)

 

3) Operating - but (probably) SHOULDN'T BE OPERATING...

(This was my possible #500 Coaster, if the parks had been reversed.)

 

As for #3 - That was Feng Shen, a standing loop, shuttle loop coaster that unlike

others I have been on, had an odd um, 'thing' happen at the 'top' of that loop while

our centre of gravity was upside down. A release, a skid, vibrations... and then we

were out of the loop. Very jarring, freeky, scary to a few of us (yes, hand up),

and ultimately, A Real Thrill at the start of this tour. (First of a few, lol.)

 

A pretty good start to the "Official TPR China Tour Parks List", heh heh.

 

And then there was Sun Park which had it's fair share

of coasters, but mainly off-the-knockoff-rack of the usual

suspects...worm, dragon, mousies (spin and non-), a looper,

a powered... and a Mine Coaster - this was My 500th!!!!

 

It was an auspicious starting day of The Tour for me.

 

But The Best part of the day - NIGHTIME Strange Meal eating Night!

Everything from scorpions, centipede (disgusting smell), shark

(yummy fish cake), baby quail (3 on a stick!) and other former live things

you just couldn't imagine that anybody would be eating - locally!

 

No dog or cat, horse or other 'legendary' meat sources, though.

What a surprise - every other disgusting thing, deep fried or

made into something else for The Night Market's delight.

 

And I heard later on, that our first group, was the most adventurous,

eating at least FIVE different...um.... things at The Market. Guess

most of the other groups just settled for scorpion-on-stick, hee hee.

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I am terrible at taking photos of maps onsite at parks - either on film or digital, LOL. But - here's the one for Shijingshan.

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And here is That Coaster ~ Feng Shen ~ with this infamous "scary feeling/sounding" top loop 'thing.' Yeah, it shuddered, too.

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I think this was an old dark ride underneath us, but a bit of a view of what we were touring through.

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The SLC, called.....drrrumrollll.... Roller Coaster.

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Really wanted to try the rail riding thing, but not enough time. Next visit...

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Then we headed through here, and saw (finally) why #1 was closed - looked pretty bad. No sympathy shots, here.

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And then I consoled myself with a freshly-made ice cream (sort of) treat with the flavour of....Rainbow! And that was it for me and this park. On to the other one, and Coaster #500!

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See, it's getting worse here. Told you I wasn't good with maps and photos. But this is Sun Park's map, for what you can make out of it.

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Here's a.... Rainbow Children Coaster... ta daaaahhh! And a pretty good (we found out later) Star Flyer behind it.

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The looper. It was, and it did. And it corkscrewed, too.

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Yes, one of these too. Why look! Its (l/r) Jon and Steve! Hi guys! Uh, Steve, what are you doing with your hands, there?

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Then there were THESE roaming around my 500th coaster, like they owned the place!

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But awwww - they was sooo cuuuute. I let'em stay. This was a Milestone kinda feeling I had, so what the heck? Don't blow up the kitties......

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But although I cannot make out a work of this 'signage' (good luck Larry), this was My 500th Coaster - Mine Train! It was a very neat feeling, at my age, HA!

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Oh yeah, and one of these too...

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This was fascinating to me - elevator between kitchen and us at Group Meal on upper floor. Sadly, too fast to catch with doors open and food loaded there, lol.

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And now - Night Market Time = disgusting things to try and digest!

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First up - the Scorpion appy - definitely the one that most of everybody tried. Then it was downhill from there, lol Nick's still thinking about 'it' right up to that first....crunch.

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The Market has tons of other things (I got a red Beijing cap!), but its mainly the food vendors (yuk) that attract the crowds, I'd say.

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And finally to close this post out - deep fried...tarantula. Yum. Good eh, Ledgy?

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^, ^^ & ^^^

 

The funny thing was, I actually didn't even notice the stuff, looking directly at it several times, while we were up there on The Wall. And it wasn't until Joli pointed it out to me - wham! I was in awe of the 'abundnce of...' heh heh.

 

So - now we get to a First Big Park - Happy Valley Beijing

 

There is really no way to describe this chain of parks through-out China, except it appears to be run on the Six Flags idea, except with more original theming, depending on the area they're in, more or less landscaping, a lot of space to walk around in...and sometimes some questionable ride operations, lol. Not all Happy Valleys were like that. But this one...

 

It had a great flyer which made a bit of use from the park's "mountain" that dominated the (sort of) middle of the park. The new launched coaster was still being "put together" so we had to miss out on that experience. The wild mouse was also down, but most of us weren't too choked up about it, lol. Mine train and SLC were pretty basic layouts. Good themeing on the mine train.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

I wasn't overwhelmed with HVB as I thought I would be. But then, there were other Happy valleys to check out and compare. So after the park, we headed for some more Culture, this time being where two well known bldgs. of the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics were still standing: the Birds Nest and the Water Cube. Both very cool to look at (from a distance) in the daytime - but probably killer to see at night. And I wish I had come back to see that, like I believe Big Mike, megan, DavidH and a few others did?

 

Ah well - next China Tour, ha ha. And here's the pix. Not many, but then I didn't feel obliged in HVB to take any more than I did. (o:

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Here's what everybody mostly recognizes in these parks in China. A Mountain, lol.

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But no complaining - we got some great ERT on the flyer, Crystal Wing! Keith looks ready to rock, and Elissa is all smiles!

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An artsy coaster shot of the flyer. I do what I can, heh heh.

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And finally - a bit of "aww gee" from the tour crowd on the No Launch Today Sign of the new coaster at HVB.

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And after that - we're off and flying!

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Actually it looks like a mother with her brood, LOL! This is beside the Plaza for the Summer'08 Olympics Bldgs.

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And what's an iconic attraction...without ME in front! Birds Nest......soup?

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And The Water Cube. Looks terribly plain without all those colours running all over it, at night.

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Excellent - other people to show off my camera skills! Hi guys! Hot, isn't it? James, stop squinting.

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And what no travel post should be without - three cooling towers! So close, so scary-looking. Taken from the bus on the way to dinner, and then back to the hotel. (EDIT: Not nuclear; just cooling.)

Edited by Nrthwnd
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Sorry to yell at you, but one of my pet peeves is people mistaking normal cooling towers for Nuclear Power plants. Your picture of those cooling towers is just that...cooling towers. There is no major Nuclear Power Plant in Beijing. In fact, most of China is still coal powered and they have very few nuclear plants. Those cooling towers are used for all sorts of energy production, even renewable types!

 

I think we can all blame the Simpsons for this very common misconception.

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^^ My oops.

 

Thanks for the clarification, Elissa.

 

I think I was/am too used to what was built and run near us

north of Portland Oregon - and Three Mile Island - and

The Simpsons, of course, lol!

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The next day, we headed out to one of China's newest theme parks,

Victory Kingdom. Only a couple of months old, it looked promising

at the entrance (so many winged horse statues!) but once we were inside,

it became clear that this park had a lot still to do...

 

Like themeing. And landscaping. (And more space....not.)

 

It had a few good flats, a rough SLC, and a mouse that just

would not open for us, boo hoo. Also a Shoot The Chute water ride,

which was my first one to do. With the yucky-looking water and all.....

 

After this park, we headed to the Beijing Airport, for our first (of

four) "internal flight" that evening. But not before stopping at a

couple of small parks along the way, for more Sad-And-Pathetic Credits.

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Victory Kingdom ahead - this looks promising.

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Massive spacious entrance plaza! That should have been a clue to us, what to find inside.

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As you can see, I DO like my winged horses. And this one was so happy to see us, it pooped out a potted flowering plant! (Later on, one of them attacked Chuck, I heard.)

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Trash containers outside. Um....'oraganism'?

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People who loves their frisbee rides. Or whichever one this is called.

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Then there were these wierdos....

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...Who wanted to prove their stomachs were cast iron...

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...When this flat went...like this.

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Guess Jon didn't have the stomach to be King! (it's good to be the King)

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Me on one (of a very few) of more sane rides of Victory Kingdom. Such a wuss I am.

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And look! It's a credit! Stopping at Youth Center Park and freeking the ride op out, with over 30 of us, ready to ride it!

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OMG - same park, another credit! We were so lucky.

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On the way out - I wanted a perfect photo here. But it was kind of ...crowded. So I waved my Magic TPR Pen...

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And it was... perfect.

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At Beijing Airport - and a reminder of where we'd just been, lol. (Although I really didn't know if this was an actual ad for the park or not. But I liked it.)

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Up next, some driving, more s-a-p* credits and...

 

Floraland

 

This was a nice park, which not only had a nice assortment of flats and coasters,

but a good layout of gardens and landscaping I don't think a lot of us checked out

too much. This park also earned Bonus Points for having one of those Evil Flats...

 

Tagada! I know a video has been posted on the site, of this thing in action, and

I'm pretty sure if one ever opened in North America, there would be seat belts,

possible OTSRs. Which would take The Painful Fun out of it, lol. Still - whatta ride,

and whatta workout! All to (for the second cycle of it) "I shall survive'!

 

And props should definitely go out to the ride op who was clearly enjoying himself,

of his evil creation throwing us around. he sang pretty good too, heh heh.

 

And Floraland isn't finished with adding stuff to it. There was construction going

on for a future waterpark AND a new section that had 3 coasters already onsite!

 

So - guess a re-visit will be in order in a few years. This park will be worth it.

 

(*Sad-And-Pathetic)

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It's too early in the morning to even photograph the entrance 'icon' properly - later when we leave...

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The park entrance.

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I liked this interesting plant - lots of it all over the park.

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There was an ICE HOUSE in Floraland too! Oops - my camera needs adjusting here.

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There. That's better. And there was an ice slide (no credit darnit) around the perimeter of the whole place. Cool! Literally!

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And Elissa, warm and (somewhat) toasty, there in it.

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Hands up for Tagada! Tossing everybody around. As usual. To the Disco Beat! Awesome flat.

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Me having meat-on-stick. The "meat" was a bit tough. But other than that.... (o:

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And on our way out of the park - a better photo of... it. Great way to recycle, hmm?

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Interesting cluster of buildings, seen from the bus, on the way to more s-a-p credits.

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Power napping on the bus. And here is Jon and Jon. One is the Good Jon and the other is the Naughty Jon. Can you figure out which is which?

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And this is Steve's nose. Do you see it there, kids?

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And David is having sweet TPR dreams, with his 'dreamfairies' all hovering around him.

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One of the many, many parks we found extra credits. Here, a show was going on.

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Another park, another column seen.

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I was going to ask directions - but I thought this person was 'busy.' Actually, they were just dead. Ha ha.

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While we were riding a s-a-p credit, I saw this woman making candy "sculptures" with raw melted sugar syrup. Very impressive.

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And a fountain shot, as we're on our way to another possible park, and the group meal for the evening.

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