So, we are in China. It is definitely not Japan. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it’s different for sure. Part of the reason for this journey is to see how other cultures live and how different they all are. Beijing has a lot more people just to begin with – 11.5 million! It’s dirtier and just plain crazier. Even Dave and I were slightly overwhelmed walking the streets. I think the one thing we miss the most are clean bathrooms and western toilets. Holes in the ground are not what we are accustomed to, and the bathrooms in and of themselves are just dirty. The other thing that is hard for us westerners to understand is the lack of freedom when it comes to the internet. As I type this, it will be saved until we get out of China. We are not able to access many sites – you tube (which the girls are sad about), any google account, including gmail, so Dave is off the grid, blog posts, instagram, etc. It is definitely an eye opening experience.
We have been blessed with good weather once again. After a day of rain, nothing too bad, we have had our third day in a row of blue skies. Our friend, Julia, told us this never happens in Beijing. Julia, is a friend of a friend that we were lucky enough to meet. She spent three different days with us showing us all around Beijing. We really couldn’t have navigated the city without her – definitely not the subways. We are staying in the Waifujong District, which has so many people. Julia showed us one street with food vendors where we got our first glimpse of live scorpions on sticks that are cooked to order. The girls were having none of that and Dave debabted, but didn’t pull the trigger.
We navigated a day trip to the Forbidden City without Julia one day and survived. What an amazing thing to see! It is incredible how old, almost 600 years, it is and how they were able to create such large, beautiful, intricate buildings back then. We ended up getting guide to show us around. He was so knowledgable and was able to give us historical facts and tid bits that interested the girls. The guide was actually a professor of ancient china history and had just toured a group of 20 professors from Boston University, so we were in good hands, The girls were tropopers as we walked a lot and then were not able to get a cab and had to walk all the way back to our hotel – needless to say, they were exhausted.
Our hotel had a pool, so I think we were able to swim all 3 days, which the girls loved. We were able to goto the old part of Beijing called the Hutong with Julia and we really enjoyed our day there. Lots of shopping and food, people watching and seeing how people in Beijing live. We enjoyed a great Chinese lunch that the girls loved as well.
Our last day Julia took us to a flea market. What a cool thing to experience with a local. Stands and stands of people selling all sorts of things, from beads, bracelets, necklaces and art work, to calligraphy brushes and ink wells, which Claire of course had to have. Now that we are in Japan and there is no more origami paper, she has decided to take up Chinese calligraphy 🙂 Everyone loved checking out the stalls and ended up buying a few things, bracelets for $1, charms for under $1 – great deals, but we may run out of room in our carry on luggage soon! We ended our day with a delicious dim sum lunch.
We are now on our way to The Great Wall as I type this. It’s about 1 1/2-2 hours away. We are staying in a great place up there called the Schoolhouse and are very excited to be in a small village amongst local people and have the ability to walk to the Great Wall. Can you imagine that?! I am very excited to experience this and see something so massive and historical.
I think we are realizing that big cities are just a different experience than being in small towns. We head to the Great Wall, then onto Xi’an to see the Terracotta Warriors. After that we hit two big cities – Shanghai and Hong Kong, but we will not be doing much site seeing – we are going to take this time to enjoy friends that live in those cities, see how locals live, eat delicious food and relax. We knew the beginning of our trip was going to be little go, go, go, so we are ready to slow it down for all of us.
Once you read this, there may be a few posts that come up at once since we will be in China three weeks, but want to continue to blog our journey. If you are following me on instagram, there will be many pictures that come up all at once too. Sorry for that, just want to keep documenting our journey for our records and for all of you to see.
Thanks for following. We miss you all and miss San Francisco 🙂