Jack's Little Mei Mei

Friday, January 19, 2007

What a Day!

We decided to be adventurous and do the day on our own and see what would happen. Most people in our adoption group had scheduled tours with translators every step of the way. Not us risk takers! So we had the front desk write "Hutong" on a piece of paper in Chinese. I just want to mention here how weird it is to be in a place where you can not communicate in any way. When I was in France I could at least read some of the words. I have no clue how this language works and the writing may as well be from Mars!

Anyway, the cab took us to this old, old Beijing neighborhood. We hopped out and the rickshaw drivers were just arriving to the center square. A girl came right up to us and said in English that she could be our guide and take us on the "Hutong tour for 180 Yuen each-Jack was 1/2. That is about 22.00 US. We agreed not knowing if she was scamming us or what, but we agreed anyway. So Jack and I got in the first Rickshaw. Tim got in another with our new guide and friend Mickey.

We took off and into the little narrow streets we went. You could look into the little houses and see laundry hanging, old coal stacked up, new black coal, animals, buckets etc. It was right out of a movie. Jack was silent and just looking around at all the new sights. We stopped at an old house that she said was over 200 years old from some dynasty that I can't remember- Mung maybe and she explained the architectural features about the particular house we were looking at. The color, number of beams sticking out and the statues represent the social stature of the family living inside. This particular one was the house of a high military official who had several concubines. His house had 4 pillars so his daughters could marry someone with no less than 4. (This is from the family 200 years ago) Anyway, we got to go inside one house and have tea and candy with this lady whose family owned the house for 4 generations. She was the oldest daughter with no sons so she got the house when her parents died. We got into a good conversation, through Mickey's translation about adoption. I won't bore you with the details, but it was so fascinating. We then rode in the rickshaw some more and then stopped at the drum tower and saw a drum ceremony. After that, we rode to a tea service and learned how to drink tea. We tasted several different teas. Jack loved this part. He didn't taste the tea, but was enthralled with the lady and the service. It was sort of like wine tasting. We then finished our tour and felt like we saw some very special Chinese customs and ways of life. Mickey really loved Jack and kept touching his freckles. She did tell me I need to dress him warmer and put several more layers on his body. She was worth every penny! I learned so much about China from her.

We hopped in a cab and showed the guy our hotel address. We then had some Chinese noodles and Dim sum in the hotel restaurant. Jack and I rested for an hour while Tim had a Chinese massage- whatever that is??? He came back happy so I guess it was good!

Now that we were expert risk takers in China, we hopped into another cab and went to the shopping district. Lots of people looking at us. I sure felt blond and freckly!
Jack had a McDonalds and Tim had a Starbucks. We went in some back alleys and saw some interesting sites! Cicada or Caterpillar cocoon skewers anyone!

Then we came back to the hotel and got ready for the acrobat show. Wow! That was so cool!

Tim and I were both commenting on how serene the people are here. Despite all the smog, traffic, and poverty the Chinese people we have encountered seem so happy with their lives and we have seen no conflicts amongst the people. The drivers are crazy but no one honks in anger, only for warnings. They seem so proud of their country.

I know you want pictures. Well, my computer is not cooperating in the photo dept. so I am going to try in the morning. I am really tired.

Happy Birthday "Uncle" Peggy!

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