At various points throughout the year, BJR will take its foreign experts on sightseeing trips around China and sometimes to local attractions in Beijing. On Saturday, they took us to the Summer Palace, but not just to see the old dwelling of previous emperors. We were taking part in a friendship competition for foreigners.
The event had been explained to me as a field trip. It eventually evolved into an organized event for foreigners from Beijing. I later heard someone mention that it was a competition. Two days before the event, one of my office friends used the word "race."
It turned out to be, as we soon found out, a "long walk" around Kunming Lake, where the Summer Palace is located.
The weather was beautiful - not too warm, not too cold and essentially perfect walking weather.
We were given goodie bags beforehand with an assortment of gifts. We were also required to wear light blue vests to set us apart from other tourists in the area, and perhaps to prevent people from taking boats across the lake to finish the walk quicker.
It took us about two hours to walk around the lake. At various points, signs with "Come On" written on them pointed us in the right direction. Perhaps they were also meant to inspire walkers, but to me they seemed a bit bossy.
At the end we were given free phone cards (the event was hosted by China Mobile). The Summer Palace area was great - another one of Beijing's historic landmarks and simply huge in scale. I'll have to make it a point to get back to see the whole area and not worry about speed walking around the perimeter of the nearby lake.