Sunday, the day of rest. No more stairs - stressing about, running/climbing on, or otherwise thinking about. We went to the Temple of Heaven and surrounding park, and then on to the marketplace for a little bargain shopping before our banquet dinner.
The park reminded me of NYC's Central Park with all the activity. People hanging out, playing games, dancing, singing, flying kites, etc. (Click images to enlarge.)
At this point we were feeling rather holy, so we decided to have another religious experience and go shopping in the marketplace – the land of knock-offs! I consider myself a shopping expert, but wow! This place even gave me a headache after a few hours. Here's how it works: When you first walk in the door you get bombarded with "hey lady, you need (insert anything imaginable)?" So then, you look at whatever it is – Coach, Burberry, Gucci, Prada, Rolex, Ipod – and ask how much. They tell you something ridiculous like 2000 Yuan (approximately $288 USD) and then you tell them something equally ridiculous like 100 Yuan (approximately $14 USD). Then they say "oooohhhhh no, 1000" and you say "150" and so it goes. They say they'll lose money at that price, you say you don't want it after all, and then when you walk away, they run after you and give it to you for your final bid. It's kinda fun, but very stressful to someone like me who can't do math. Now I'm sure you're wondering what I got suckered into, right? Of course I'm not going to tell you! I want to keep you guessing so the next time you see me you'll be wondering – is that really a fancy Kmart purse, or is it one of those knock-off thingees? Just know that the Chinese economy has been boosted by my visit.
Later that evening we went to the Great Wall Marathon Gala Dinner where the tour sponsors wined and dined us as we limped around and told war stories. We watched a dragon dance, ate tons of great food, watched video footage from the race, received awards (okay, some people did), and heard lots of great stories. It was a lot of fun because we had met so many fantastic people throughout the week and we were actually quite sad to say goodbye. However, I noticed no one said "see ya next year, same time – same place". Gee, I wonder why? (Click here to see ALL pictures.)