What a fun and exciting day for Dennis and I. We set out to visit Tiananmen Square, well known as the national symbol for China. Comparatively, this would be much like Washington DC for those of us who live in the States. On this day, a huge section was closed off by guards because government officials from Angola were visiting (ie. the president was on the grounds).
The colors were lovely and the art impressive. Like this dragon-turtle? Or turtle-dragon? Whichever the case, you just don't see enough "drurtle" in the the US. Huge crowds were there to photograph these relics that are hundreds of years old.
And the military was there to keep the crowds at bay. Don't be fooled..these young men were 6 feet tall and disciplined.
They were chanting as the moved through the crowd who was there to visit....
and take pictures of the foreigners who just so happened to take a few pictures back!
The grounds were impressively large and
we soaked in the history and culture lessons provided by our guide.
But as usual, I started to lose myself in the details
And found myself photographing people. Like the little boy in teal who made funny faces at me. Or the little one in red split pants that made my heart go thumpity thump. I wondered if Bear was wearing a pair at that exact moment? Knowing that he is just a few hours from me leaves me in a foggy state...that sureal moment that mamas feel right before they deliver a baby...or adopt a precious little one. I assure you, the feelings are the same. Exactly the same.
And then there was this boy. As our guide taught a historical lesson on the palaces, I was busy playing peek-a-boo with this fella. He was curious, very curious and my heart went to Jack-Jack on the other side of the world. These two could be buddies. Handsome, smart and mischievous. This brave fellow tried to teach me to say monkey and Bear in Chinese and giggled at my failed attempt.
This guy....my favorite part of Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City.
After leaving the capital area, we made our way into the Hutong (Old City). The streets are narrow and most travel by scooter or rickshaw (cart pulled by a bicycle). Dennis was hesitant. He told me he felt bad having a man pull him around, but the streets are unmarked and navigating would be nearly impossible without help. And there is no way in this world that I would get on a scooter in Beijing with an unexperienced scooter driver (Dennis) so the rickshaw it was.
Our driver was so handsome and kind. He told us to call him "Number 20" which only made me like him more.
And then we reached our destination. An unmarked, courtyard home in the middle of the Hutong. Look through the door and you will see a traditional, old town dining room where an amazing lunch was waiting for us. We dined as the owner of the home shared about it's unique layout and their prize-winning racing pigeons. She offered to show us the birds in action, but much to our despair, her uncle had already sent them out and there is a rule that racing pigeons can only be flown once a day in Beijing. Who knew?
As we made our way out of the Hutong and Dennis wished our driver well in the form of a huge, guilty tip, we stumbled upon this: an intense game of cards! The man in the hat was surely the guy to beat.
After our return to the hotel, we were exhausted and had hoped that a traditional Chinese massage would be what we needed to set our clocks to China time. Upon the recommendation of our guide, George, 2 lovely ladies came to our hotel room with all the gear they needed for an acupressure massage. When in Rome...
A few minutes later we were being stretched and tangled and pounded on by 2 inhumanly strong gals...weighing in at 80 lbs tops. At one point my knuckles were being popped and my hair pulled...hard. It wasn't the quiet, relaxing massage I had envisioned and my English cries for something a little more gentle were met with a smile that resulted in a more punishing rhythm of abuse. After each section of the body was thoroughly "treated," a series of smacks indicated they were moving on. When it was finally time for the feet, I looked at Dennis with wide eyes and he gave me a reassuring smile. We were asked to put our feet into a bag of heated tea and then it happened. Pure magic. It was intense, but oh, so amazing. After an hour and a half, they left the room and D and I laid in silence for a moment before bursting with laughter. I had feared that all of the cracking and popping (back, neck, legs, shoulders, etc) would leave us sore, but surprisingly we both felt amazing. It was just different than what we are used to.
We ended the day at a local restaurant were we ordered Peking Duck. After a little lesson on how to carve it, we carefully followed the directions to make it into a roll filled with thinly sliced melon and leeks. On our way back to to the hotel, we browsed the night markets and soaked in the cool breeze.
We are off to The Great Wall in just and hour or two. Here's to another adventure!
Love to All.