Monday, June 16, 2014

Beijing Day 1

 (NOTE:  please ignore the date on the outside of the post.  The relevant date is in each post.)

We departed Chicago for Beijing thankfully on a non-stop flight.  Bad thing though:  it is a non-stop flight!  13+ hrs. 

But we made it!  Nati actually handled the flight like a champ.  Plenty of movies, books, and princess dolls to get her through.  I tried my best to get us complimentary upgrades to biz class by using Nati and getting her into the flight deck before we left the gate for a tour (and shamelessly using my job as a pilot as well), but it didn't work.  Man, I need a chiropractor after sitting in those seats!

The rest of the flight was uneventful, landing in Beijing just about 15 min behind schedule.  We were worried about the air pollution, but it really wasn't too bad.  Then, off to the hotel for some sleep... (or so I thought...)
June 20th
As our luck turns out, the blog that we are using is a Google product that we can't access here in Beijing.  The VPN which should allow us to access it and Facebook, but they have blocked it here as well.  I’ve never had a problem before in other Chinese cities, so I expected things to go smoothly, but the Chinese have so far taken away my  bag of tricks.

The first night was rough for us.  The three of us didn't get much sleep.  Nati, in all her awesomeness on the airplane, had a rough time settling herself.  Who can blame her?  It is hard enough for an adult to adjust themselves to the jet lag and 13 hr difference, much less a 4 year old.  But, we got through the night somehow.  A byproduct of the rough night was our poor Vili waking up feeling very sick.  But, like her daughter, she was able to take some medicine, and compose herself enough to get going on the touring this morning.  She quickly rebounded up to about 85% energy, and was able to maintain that through the day.  I am so proud of my girls - every hurdle that has been placed in front of them, they have been able to overcome and be real troopers!!! 

Well, with our own personal tour guide, today we went to Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, an authentic tea house, Hutong Tour, silk factory tour, and an acrobatics show.  The square was interesting for its historical value, the Forbidden City was enormous and ornate, the Hutong tour gave us an opportunity for a rickshaw ride through an area of Beijing that is typical living, and had an authentic lunch at a family's house, and the acrobatic show was very interesting.  The tea house exposed us to some wonderful tasting teas, and the silk factory tour gave us an opportunity to look over some Chinese silk goods.  On a side note, our guide, Susan, is extremely nice and caring.  She is really enjoying Nati's company.

Tiananmen Square:

Forbidden City:

Natalija was treated like a movie star everywhere we went.  People were pointing at her and staring at her.  Several families wanted to take pictures of Nati posing with their young children.  At first it seemed strange that people were so interested in us (by us I really mean Nati J) until our tour guide mentioned that seeing a foreign child is rare.  Living in such a diverse country seeing people of different cultures is a daily occurrence for us, however, in China the population is completely homogenous.  As Rob mentioned, our first day was very busy!  Natalija and I especially enjoyed the tea tasting at the tea house.  Nati thought that our tea teacher looks like a princess!  We sat around a table set with three beautiful porcelain tea cups.  We sampled five types of tea, each prepared in a specific way.  They were so fragrant and naturally sweet.  I can see why tea is the drink of China.  At the end she mentioned that the temperature of the water is extremely important.  She then pulled out a naked little boy figurine called pee-pee boy.  If you pour cold water on him nothing happens.  When you pour hot water over him he pees it out.  This of course was Nati’s favorite part of our tea party.  When we purchased tea, we were given a pee-pee boy of our very own!


At the silk factory we learned about the entire process of where the silk comes from and how it is stretched.  Nati especially enjoyed seeing the silk worms and watching 5 ladies pulling the silk into a blanket.  The entire process is done by hand.
The rickshaw ride was quite an experience.  I was sure that we were going to crash on several occasions.  Driving, riding and walking are like participating in an extreme sport.  People drive, bike and walk with no road rules.  It is common to see cars on the wrong side of the road, cars routinely cut each  other off, do random u-turns, drive on the shoulder, and honk.  Everywhere all through the day and night you hear people honking at one another.  Despite all of this, no one seems to be mad.  And by the way, CARS DO NOT YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS!!

Now back to our lunch.  We arrived at what I would describe as a tenement or compare to Chicago public housing.  With caution we wound our way down an alley to an apartment where an elderly lady had an authentic lunch prepared for us to enjoy.  With trepidation we tasted the food, which was very good.  Nati would only eat the rice.  Eating the food here has been difficult for her but she’s trying.



No comments:

Post a Comment