-I started out with the Jackpot of all sinus headaches. I am finding that smog and my head are not friends. I am very thankful that I stopped by Walgreens to buy that extra box of Sudafed before we left.
-We started at the breakfast buffet, which was fabulous. Although I found that the Chef's idea of a cooked egg and my idea of a cooked egg were not the same. Also I found that you really need to eat all the food you take. I had gotten this chocolate mini muffin and it turned out that it was very dry and made of cocoa (which I don't care for), so I only ate a bite and left the rest. This earned me a stank eye from the lady clearing the table. Then Mark had gotten yogurt and decided he didn't like is and gave it to me. I tried it and liked it, but was full so I didn't finish it. At least I didn't plan on finishing it...The same lady came to clear the table while I was finishing my coffee and picked up the yogurt, realized it was still mostly full and put it back in front of me while saying something that I can only assume was along the lines of "you finish," then got the napkin and spoon from the next place setting and put it in front of me. Ok I get it, must finish yogurt. I was so full by time I was done, and let me tell you Mark heard about how I got yelled at by a little Chinese lady b/c HE didn't finish his yogurt!
-Good news is that is was raining on and off all day. You would think this would be bad, but yesterday I found out that smog (and there is ALOT of smog here--it looks like it is overcast all the time) does not keep the UV rays from burning you. Thankfully we were only outside 1 1/2 hrs yesterday so we each just got a little pink. Today we wore sunscreen, but I think it was actually overcast which helped keep it cool. We also never really had a good rain, it just sprinkled on and off all day.
-Our guide picked us up at 0930 and we headed over to Tiananmen Square. We took the subway, which really wasn't to bad, but it is VERY crowded. You could get lost for days in the underground subway system, and dont' stop in the middle of the walkway b/c people will just keep on going. Tiananmen Square is nice. It is a big open square, has the Monument to the People's Heroes and a masoleum of a previous Chairman. The National Museum of China is just across the street. We walked around for a little bit then headed across the street to the Forbidden City.
-We spent about 2 hours in the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is located in the center of Beijing. It received it's name b/c the Emperor was believed to be just below Heaven but above all common people. Therefore, it became the Forbidden City b/c commoners where not allowed. There were 24 different Emperors that lived in the Forbidden City, with the last leaving in 1924.
-After going in thru the first gate you walk along some paths. Everything is very nicely landscaped. There was some buildings with overhangs. Our guide said alot of retired people will come here to just enjoy the beauty and visit (alot of people were playing cards or just standing around talking). Our guide left us for a few minutes to go buy tickets (she always reiterates.."you stay here" : ) I keep promising her that if we get lost we will just plant ourselves in one place until she finds us, but she is still worried she will lose us. It helped today that it was raining and we had brought our bright yellow umbrella from home. She was so excited b/c she said it would be easy to find us with the umbrella being such a bright color. The crazy thing is that while we were standing there waiting I looked over and saw a family that I had talked to online in one the our Facebook adoption groups. We had said we would keep an eye out for eachother b/c we knew both of us would be at the Forbidden City today, but seriously who would have thought that in the throngs of thousands of people we would actually run into them. I have to say though that I will not complain about the pictures and stares I get for being blonde, b/c they have their 4 yr old daughter with them and she is such a trooper. She is blonde as blonde can be and I swear in the 5 minutes we were with them 10 different people either asked or just stopped and took a picture of her.
-To see the city from the front is totally deceiving. When you first walk in there is a large courtyard with I think 5 bridges (don't quote me here). Candy said there was a different bridge built for each class of people. One for the Emperor, then royalty, military and commoners. The first large building you come to is the Hall of Supreme Harmony. This is where the Emperor held special ceremonies and conducted business. It is the largest building and has the Emperors chair in the middle. Noone could build their home higher than this building b/c the Emperor is thought to be just under Heaven and so noone else could be higher than him.
-After you finish in the first courtyard you think you are done, but OH you are so not done. This place is massive!!!! I completely stopped counting, but I think we passed thru 4 huge courtyards and the Imperial Gardens. The only other buildings I remember were the Hall of Middle/Central Harmony where the Emperor would go to rest before going to the Hall of Supreme Harmony for special occasions and the Hall of Preserving Harmony which I think she said this is where the Emperor would go to dress for special occasions. Seriously!!! This one hall is bigger than my house. Beautiful, but huge.
-The Imperial Gardens were gorgeous. Lots of statues, rock formations and gardens. I can see how it would really be a peaceful place if there wasn't thousands of people rushing thru it. Still very beautiful though.
Ok that gets us to Noon. Should I go for part 3?? Nope lets just finish this day up right now : )
-After the Forbidden City Candy took us to a get Chinese food. We just let her order. We got noodles, some chicken dish and vegetables. The veggies looked like mini Bok Choy and mushrooms in a brown sauce. The noodles were okay and the chicken stuff was actually pretty good. No ill effects yet so we are going to try Chinese food again for lunch tomorrow I think.
-After lunch we took the bus to Hutong alley. Basically it is one of the oldest areas of Beijing. All the buildings are really small and there are alot of shops. It was a very quiet area. You could pay for them to take you on a tour of the area on a rickshaw, but we opted to just walk around a little. We were not really in the mood for shopping so this part was pretty uneventful.
Candy is very nice. Anyone who knows us knows that we are pretty low key people. We just don't get ruffled by much, so whenever she asks what/when/where etc. we usually just say that is fine or whatever you suggest. It is funny b/c a couple times Mark said he didn't care so now she keeps saying "he said you are the boss" and asks me : ) She was also asking us alot of questions about why we are adopting. She said she thought we were very young to be adopting. She also asked us alot if we were tired. When we said no she would say "that is b/c you are very young and have lots of energy." She has taught us how to say Hello, No and Thank You. We taught her how to say talkative. She was telling Mark that I talk alot : ) Truthfully we have both been VERY quiet. I almost felt bad b/c there were these long stretches of silence and I really wasn't talking randomly I was just asking alot of questions so I could write things down to blog about. I mean I AM talkative, but haven't been the last two days : )
Yesterday she seemed surprised when we said we were adopting a boy. She asked if it was more expensive to get a boy to which we said no it is the same cost for adoption regardless of if it is a boy or girl. Then we showed her a picture of Konnor and you could tell that at first she was shocked. She was very gracious though and didn't make any rude comments. She did ask alot of questions today about what we were going to do about his cleft and if he would even be able to talk. We just informed her that we had already talked to our Doctors and they said they would be able to repair it and he would be fine. She seemed a little concerned about how we were going to pay for his surgery, but she eventually dropped it. I know she didn't mean any harm with her questions and it is just preparing me for how people will react when they see us out with Konnor.
-Fun fact: Beijing has approx. 30.5 million people!! And I thought Springfield was big : ) There are alot of people driving, but it seems that most use the subway, bus, have scooters or alot of people ride bikes. There is a whole seperate lane of traffice for people on scooters and bikes.
-One thing that we have seen alot of in the last 2 days is disabled people performing or begging on the streets. Another family that just left the other day had warned us of this, but it is absolutely awful to see. You can tell that some of them don't even know what they are doing. I suspicion they are "owned" by someone that uses them for money. Others were doing different things like singing. Alot of them had disabilities that wouldn't be an issue back home. It was absolutely heartbreaking.
Ok I think I have officially fried my brain trying to remember everything. Hope you guys are having fun reading about all the history and craziness we are encountering. We haven't been able to figure out how to upload pictures yet, but we are working on it and hopefully we will have it figured out by time we get Konnor. Have a good weekend!!
P.S. only 3 more sleeps till Gotcha Day!!!!!
|National Museum of China|
|Monument to the People's Heroes|
|Mark and Ashley-Chinese flag and in the background is the first entrance to the Forbidden City|
|This is the line to enter the Forbidden City after you buy your tickets.|
|The detail on the buildings is beautiful!!|
|Mark and Ashley, the Hall of Supreme Harmony is in the background|
|Mark and the male guardian statue|