Monday, August 29, 2011

Bustling Beijing

So many people thought we were crazy for taking the girls on such a long flight, (you should have known already that me and Brad ARE crazy). For some reason I wasn't really worried about the flights and they turned out just fine- the girls liked being held pretty much the whole time, sometimes they hung out in the bassinet and it was all rather uneventful. (in a good way)
Brad thought this flight to China would be different for him since it wasn't him and his guy friends flirting with Asian stewardesses and getting hooked up with goodies on the flight (I can only imagine, I did see Brad once mildly "flirt" with a nordstrom rack employee who proceeded to give me her employee discount on my shoes! Who negotiates deals in US department stores?!) We were pleasantly surprised to discover they liked June and Lyla even more than him and his friends. They were going gaga over the girls and kept offering to babysit for us. :)
P.S. Is it just me or does the American working woman always dress like a janitor? (nurses, flight attendants...) I think we had it right in the 60's and the rest of the world has it right now- how darling are the Chinese flight attendants? Professional & feminine, love that.
Anyways...The flight was pretty much like this:
And arriving in china was kind of like this:
After landing we took a short taxi ride to the Beijing Hotel, even though we were going budget on this trip I was so happy to discover it was really, really nice. We fed the girls then took to the streets.  It was a pretty cool first night in China. We weren't sure how the girls would be received since they aren't the foreigner's favorite blond & blue eyed Americans, but they were a huge hit. Crowds of people swarmed round the babies to take pictures, it didn't bother me, it was pretty fun to hold the little Asian rock stars. :)
We got noodles and dumplings off the street. I dropped my chopsticks and tried to eat noodles with a spoon and with a baby strapped to me. Yup, I was that ridiculous American tourist. Maybe some of the people snapping pictures of the girls were also trying to get pictures of how ridiculous I looked eating noodles with a teeny tiny spoon. I definitely had to work on my chops skills since the only time I ever saw forks was on the plane.
The girls were up by 3 ready for the day and we took off at 4:30 AM to visit the great wall. Yes, the great wall. It was cool seeing some of the country as we drove. For breakfast we got some fried bread off the street that you dip in warm sweet soy milk- it was yummy.
The gondola opened a little later than we'd thought so we decided to hike it so we could still beat the crowds. I wanted to die, I don't think I've exercised since I hiked Timp last year and also wanted to die. The steps just kept going and going...although I was only carrying one baby for my annual hike, she was bigger than a peanut this time. :) By the time we got to the top we were dripping with sweat, so much for a great family photo I thought... After sitting down and cooling off I was finally able to enjoy the view. (and dry off a bit) It was so beautiful and a bit foggy which made it look mystical and enchanting, just how I'd imagine it. It was truly amazing. I have no idea how they carried all those stones up there, I had a new appreciation for the work it must have took to build!
It is seriously a GREAT wall, it lived up to and exceeded my expectations, definitely a highlight of the trip! For the last half of a year I haven't thought too much beyond my little world of taking care of babies, it was so refreshing to remember there is a whole world out there, so much bigger than me and my little family, and it's full of other great people and great things. Even a great wall!  Inside my house I forgot how great walls can be. :)
I fed the girls and we took some adorable pictures of them. We took some family pictures, by then the girls were getting a little tired. We rode the gondola back down which was so much easier than walking. :) Brad and I headed to a huge, outdoor "dirt" market (we took an electric rick-shaw- big no no!) where people come with goods from all over china to sell to vendors, obviously tourists can buy there too! There were rows and rows of wood carvings, jewelry, jade, silver, everything really. It was overwhelming, but we bought a couple little things before the girls started freaking out too much.

After another feeding we headed to yet another gigantic shopping center. This one full of knock-off clothes, shoes, purses, make-up, etc. It was almost too overwhelming to shop, so we got some 30 min foot massages for 5 bucks while I fed the girls. It was fun, Brad spoke in Chinese with the ladies and they loved playing with our girls. We were completely exhausted by the time we got the girls back on the metro, to the hotel, and got everyone cleaned up and ready for bed. The whole trip the girls woke up for the day around 4-5 AM because they were going to sleep around 5-6 PM, somehow they quickly adjusted to Hawaii time and stuck with it.
Brad went out and got us some yummy breakfast including baozas (sp?), they were these little bread dumplings with a delicious, sweet pork filling. I could have ate them all day long. Instead, we headed over to the forbidden city and Tienanmen square, after all, we were in China and these historical landmarks were a short walk away from our hotel. There were TONS of people there, almost entirely Chinese people. It was very cool, but we ended up not going all the way through the forbidden city because we were already so tired and knew we had a full day of shopping ahead of us. Back to the market we went for jeans and pearls and more foot massages.  I'm so glad I had Brad speaking the language and not taking no for an answer- the negotiations were tough. I'm used to negotiating in NYC for a knock-off purse from $40 down to $30. In Beijing they were much more ambitious, trying to start around $200, and acting like you're crazy offering $20. At first I thought we'd never buy anything, but eventually we'd get things down to affordable prices. :)
Most of the trip's shopping was accomplished (or so we thought...) so we treated ourselves to another feeding/foot massage and a taxi ride home.

The Forbidden City
Tienanmen Square
We wandered down a little ally behind the hotel that Brad was fond of before calling it a night. It started to rain so we bought an umbrella, it was a magical Chinese evening wandering the streets under our little umbrella marvelling over the oddities of scorpions on a stick, eating far more normal street food, and enjoying the quaint scenery.
We visited a big candy store, a delicious bread store, and Brad was disappointed to learn Dairy Queen had closed right before we headed over to grab some ice cream. With that, we headed to bed and said good bye to Beijing, after one more yummy baoza breakfast of course.


Whitney said...

Your girls are so stinkin cute! China looks amazing! You definitely are a brave mama for taking your girls on such a trip. Glad it went well!

M+H said...

Wish I had time to read this whole post. But I will soon. Ooh how I miss my fry bread and soy milk. Mmmm! Those girls are so darn cute. I love all these pictures!

Brooke said...

What a fun trip! Can't wait to see the rest of your posts, June + Lyla just keep getting cuter and cuter!

nerak said...

1) Brad is such a wheeler dealer, it never ceases to amaze me.

2) Your Great Wall pics are so precious! I'm sure that hike was hot and difficult, but how fantastic to get some pics without hordes of people on the wall.

3) I can't get over the photos of people swarming the babies and taking pictures of them. Made me laugh! Madness!!

4) You guys make cute kids. I just have to say it one more time.

5) Bargaining in China is definitely a process -- I know what you mean about thinking you would never actually buy anything. It is so key to have a Mandarin-speaker, otherwise they totally gouge you. The ladies in the markets used to sigh and groan when Brad or Cam would step in and finish (i.e. dramatically drop the price negotiated) my bargaining efforts! Ha.



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