Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 4 - Forbidden City

Forbidden city (short version)
~Great Breakfast
~Walked to Forbidden City
~Hot and humid!
~The Ladybug performed songs on stage
~Walked back to hotel, passed out from heat
~Ate amazing Chinese food for dinner
~Toured snack-street, bought something on a stick
~Exhausted, sleep

Forbidden City (long version)
We all slept wonderfully last night. As soon as my head hit the pillow I was out, and slept soundly until morning! We awoke this morning at around 7 a.m. and made our way to a wonderful buffet breakfast. There were numerous choices for us, from typical American cuisine to Chinese breakfast cuisine. We filled up on a little of both then decided that we wanted to venture out and enjoy a nice walking tour.

The hotel is located less than one mile away from the Forbidden City, which was once the Chinese imperial palace during the Ming Dynasty, so we opted to put on our walking shoes and make our way there. The walk was nice and easy, except for when we had to cross the streets and dodge cars that, I swear, would have loved to use us as target practice. Fortunately nobody got hurt and we arrived at the City unscathed.

Two things so far in this trip surprised me because they are different than I expected. The first is that it is WAY hotter in Beijing than I thought it would be. I was told by many people to expect hot weather in China, but I was under the impression that they were primarily referring to provinces and cities much farther south than Beijing. Places like Guangzhou and Guiyang, both of which we will be going to after we leave Beijing. Well, I was completely wrong. It is just hot and muggy here. Add to that all of the walking that we are doing and… well, let’s just say that it was a good thing that we had so much water because we were sweating like crazy. The second thing that surprised me is there are so many more people in the tourist destinations than I expected. Last time we were here it was November, and although we did see lots of people, after all Beijing is huge, the touristy places were not jam packed with people. So, when we walked up to the gates of the Forbidden City today, I was completely shocked. The place was crawling with people just about everywhere. However, despite these two “drawbacks,” we still thoroughly enjoyed ourselves (BTW, we also had a few fans to help cool us off [one even squirts wateron you, see below for a pic of the Bug cooling hersefl off], as well as an umbrella to give us some shade... apparently the umbrellas [parasols] are huge over here).

The Forbidden City is vast and gorgeous. Words do not do it justice. But, as we were walking around the palace I remembered what my father said when he traveled with us to pick up the Ladybug almost four years ago. He walked over to one of the many railings, looked out over the courtyard and said, “This looks like a fine place for a rodeo.” We all laughed at the comment, thinking about how silly it would be to see a rodeo in the middle of the Forbidden City. Cowboys and Terra Cotta warriors just do not mix.

To beat the heat we took our time by meandering our way through the many shaded corridors and entry ways to keep cool and out of the sun. At one of the stops, the Ladybug found a “stage” and decided that it was the perfect place to entertain us with some songs. She marched right up on stage and started giving us her rendition of some of her Abba favorites. At the end of the first song she started to bow just as two Chinese people stood up and gave her a round of applause. She loved it, and that just encouraged her to continue… which she did.

While the ladybug was performing, what I noticed was that although people were watching her, they also seemed to be watching us as a family as well. As it turns out, we seem to be one of the very few multi-cultural families, and I am guessing that many of these people do not often see cute little Chinese girls with American parents (I am not by any means saying that we are the only blended family, but there definitely are not many here that I have seen). We are an anomaly here in Beijing and that leads to many questions and interesting looks. A few times some elderly women slowly walked up toward her and tried to talk to her. She in turn looked at them questioningly, turned toward us and started speaking perfect English. Each time, the women seemed quite shocked, but also smiled as they watched her walk up to us and give us big hugs.

We made our way from one end of the palace to the other, enjoying the sites and sounds along the way, as well as meandering into a few shops on the palace grounds. Apparently we had been there just a little too long for the little Ladybug because at one point the she proclaimed that she was, “done shopping and didn’t want to do that anymore!” We chuckled… sorry little girl but you have a Nana and a mother who are going to veto your proclamation. She also stated that she was done with pictures for the day because we had taken enough of her. I think the little girl is still dealing with some jet lag because she usually loves getting her picture taken. It won’t matter anyway since, again, her Nana and mother will be vetoing that request as well. We are doing what we can to preserve as many memories as we can for her… and us (you can see in the first photo below... she is a little grumpy about getting her photo taken, again).

We finally made it from one end of the Forbidden City to the other and eventually walked back to the hotel. The heat definitely got to all of us. Red-cheeked by the sun and heat, we were all totally drained at the end of this little jaunt to the Forbidden City. By the time we returned, the Bug was sound asleep again. We all napped for about two hours then went out for some Chinese dinner. Wow, it was absolutely amazing! The tastes, textures, and flavors are extraordinary and just so beyond what we encounter in America. It was an incredible dinner, and we cannot wait for more to come. We hope to try a “hot pot” dinner tomorrow.

After dinner we walked through the downtown are and visited snack-street. It was so fun! The ladybug has heard about this place by her daddy who has teased her about eating a bug. So, as soon as she heard that we were on our way to where “people eat bugs,” she got al little nervous. Don’t worry, we didn’t make her eat a bug, as a matter of fact, none of ate any bugs. The only thing that was purchased was a nice dessert of fruit-on-a-stick for daddy. None the less, we did get an eyeful of a huge assortment of bugs, seafood, poultry, and innards for sale. This is not a place for people with fragile stomachs, but it surely is a site to see. We had a wonderful time meandering through the various venders. It was definitely a fun site to see.

We are now back in our rooms ready for bed. Onto another adventure soon!



Kelly T. said...

Bailey, I Love, love, love reading about your adventures! Please tell Nana hello for me and give her a big hug from Florida! ;-) I check for your updates a few times a day. I can't believe you're back in China!!!! We're so happy for you and cannot wait to see the Butterfly in your arms! I love you! Hello to the Lady Bug and also Travis too!!!

Cindy Cummins said...

Ahhhh, memories. Snack street. Forbidden City. The heat that melted your underwear. Love China!

China Dreams said...

Looks like you're having a great time! Thanks for sharing your blog, and I will continue to follow you on your journey.

Dan and Karen said...

So fun to read this post!!! I'm anxious to try "snack street" as well.

Loving your journey! Can't wait for forever family day and photos!!


Amy, Patrick & Quinn said...

Can't wait to hear what tomorrow holds for you! What a trip so far! Blessings from home! :)

The Milfords said...

Oh Bailey I wish I could be there with you! How much fun! I am THRILLED you guys are doing so well! Can't wait to follow along!

Yoli said...

Beautiful, beautiful pictures!!!! I see you are having an amazing time. Makes me miss China so much.

Gillion said...

Have you tried dumplings and roast ducks? They are the famous and traditional Beijing dieshes. And also bird's nest soup? Its a delicacy in China.

Enjoy your days~~~