A Long Day in Beijing

We started off the day going to the Temple of Heaven. It is where the emperor went to pray for good harvests. It is 600 years old. Pretty amazing! One thing that was extremely interesting to me was all of the older people at the park around the temple. There were hundreds of older people doing different types of tai chi for exercise, a dance class, a group doing a fan dance, and many, many older people playing cards. Even more intesting is that it was well below freezing this morning, but there were still so many people outside.

Next we went to Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City where the emperor lived. Here we discovered how agressive the vendors can be. I’m sure it doesn’t help that we are obviously foreigners. The Forbidden City is humongous. We only walked through some of it. I also had my first squatty potty experience here. The public toilets in China are mostly squatty potties, toilets in the ground that you stand over.

For lunch we went to a Sichuan restaurant in a hutong. Hutongs are the oldest neighborhoods in China. They are the old style courtyard homes where several generations of one family live in buildings surrounding a common courtyard. I would have liked to take a rickshaw tour of a hutong, but it was just too cold. The lunch was interesting.

In the afternoon,we went to a silk factory. The guide at the silk factory was very boisterous and tried to make friends with Caleb. First, we saw the different stages of the silkworm’s life. Then we saw workers unwinding the silk thread from the cocoon. Next we saw how they stretch the silk from double cocoons, cocoons with two silk worms, to make quilts since they cannot get a single thread from this kind of cocoon without breaking it. We were able to help stretch some of the cocoons to form the filling for the quilt. Our guide was very persuasive in trying to convince us to buy a silk quilt. But we disappointed him. I did by a Chinese dress for Rachel and silk pajamas for me.

Next we went to the Summer Palace where the emperor went during the summer. This was also a massive place. Very beautiful! There is a large manmade lake that was frozen and people were ice-skating on it.

We also drove alongside a river that was frozen with people ice-skating, ice-fishing, and even some insane people swimming!

This evening we went to an amazing acrobatic show! It is impossible to describe. The lights, costumes, music, and stunts were beautifully done and overwhelming. Interestingly, we ran into Andy and Rebecca Miller who we met on the plane outside the show. They had been to the show also. You just don’t expect to see someone you know in China.

After the acrobatic show we went to a restaurant famous for its Peking duck. Caleb wanted to try Peking duck. At both lunch and dinner we were served many, many dishes of food, far more than we could eat. We watched a waiter carve the roasted and glazed duck into thin slices. We decided that they need to give you instructions before the meals. There are so many small dishes of food. We didn’t know if you were supposed to eat them with something else or just alone. The waitress did give us instructions on the Peking duck. You dip a few slices in this tangy peanutty sauce and place them on a flat piece of thin doughy bread sort of like a tortilla. Then you add these thin slices of some sort of oniony vegetable which none of us liked and roll it up and eat it. The duck had a delicious flavor!

There are many, many people walking wherever you go in Beijing. There are also many people riding bicycles. I’ve heard that there are far fewer bicycles than in the past, but there are still a lot.

We did so much walking today that we decided to take a taxi to a shopping mall near our hotel to look for some warmer coats and maybe boots. Our tour guide said that it is going to be colder and windier tomorrow. We asked the bell boy outside the hotel to help tell our taxi driver where to go. He tried to convince us to walk to the shopping center because it was only 10 minutes away. But Caleb was especially tired, and it was bitterly cold and starting to get windy. So we convinced him that we wanted to take a taxi. We had no luck shopping. The mall we went to was very expensive. I guess we’ll just wear more layers tomorrow. When we showed a taxi driver the card to our hotel, he laughed. I guess because it was such a short drive. He’s probably thinking, “Wimpy Americans!”

Caleb had a hard time today. You know it was cold if it was cold enough to dampen his spirits. When it warmed up in the afternoon, he had a burst of energy and was literally running circles around us at the Summer Palace. I took a nap in the van on the way to the acrobatic show. Sitting still at the acrobatic show Caleb got very sleepy. He and Tommy have already crashed. It is 10:00pm here.

Eli and Titus, we love you and miss you very much! I wish you were here, but I think you would have been miserable today.

Tomorrow we go to the Great Wall.

We still have not figured out how to post photos. If we do not figure it out before Monday, we will e-mail photos to someone at home to post for us.

Only 2 more days to Rachel!!!



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6 responses to “A Long Day in Beijing

  1. Brrrr…. I’m kind of like Caleb, hate the bitter cold. And as always, I will go to Chicago at the end of Jan. where the wind off the lake can feel like it is taking your breath away when it is in the single digits or even teens.
    So I can relate to what you experienced but the cold will be forgotten well before all the beautiful memories of those wonderful sites you visited.
    I am so happy that it is only 2 days until you see Rachel!!! I know it must continue to feel surreal even though you are in China. Probably will not seem completely real until you hold her. Enjoy every moment of the rest of this joyful journey.

  2. It sounds like you are having quite an adventure! I’m so excited for you guys. 2 more days till GOTCHA!

  3. Linda/Robert

    Hi, Caleb! I heard you had a long day!! Sleep as much as you can. You are going to need it. Did you like the food? What was it like? Was it gross or was it good? I hope you liked going and seeing the stuff in New York City and in Beijing. What was it like going to the silk factory? Did you have a great time there? I hope you did. I like the shirt you have on (go dawgs!!). I bet the people in China liked your shirt. Talk to you later. Love, Robert

    How awesome!!!! What an adventure!! I am so glad that Caleb will always have the memory of how his parents let Christ be seen in them!! Thank you for also letting me see that example. (Sorry for going back a couple of days – Robert had me reread everything to him again).

    Was today everything you expected and then some!?! It is amazing to see pictures you have taken of things that I can only imagine seeing pictures of. I am glad you can show them to Racheal in the years ahead. In the pictures you all look so calm and relaxed. You do not look like it is that cold. The sunshine makes it look cozy. The girls said that when it was sunny in Alaska it was much colder. The clouds helped to hold the heat in. I bet MS coats and shoes are a little cool. I love you and can’t wait to hear all of the detail. The problem is that by the time you get home this adventure will feel like it happened weeks ago, so thank you for telling us all about it now! I can hardly wait to hear from you on Monday!!! So close!!! Hugs and kisses to all, Linda

  4. Janie

    Sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing your tirp.

  5. Christy

    I’m so jealous of your adventures! Loving the pictures and stories. Eager to read more. Love you so much!

  6. Caleb’s response to Robert: The food isn’t very good. I liked the Peking duck. At the silk factory I tried to push my fist through 10 cocoons that were stretched out and layered together, but I couldn’t. Then my Dad tried to push his fist through it, but even he couldn’t. I ate at McDonald’s last night. It was real cold in Beijing.

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