Saturday – Beijing
Now that we are in the third city of our stay, I’m finally starting to feel ready to go home. This has been a wonderful trip – full of blessings, education, adventure, and lots of family time. But, we’re ready to get back to some routine and productivity. The homeschooling I’d hoped to get done here hasn’t happened. Naps have been hard to come by for Min Hui, and we’re missing our kitty cat, beds and some personal space.
Today was enjoyable. We started in Tiananmen Square – the largest city square in the world. Keith attempted to go see Mao in the mausoleum with the big two kids, while I took the backpack (bags aren’t allowed inside) and wandered around with our friends. We met back up in 30 minutes to learn that because Keith forgot to hand me the camera (also not allowed apparently), they couldn’t go in.
Then we crossed the street in front of Chairman Mao’s large portrait, and went towards the Forbidden City (which is no longer forbidden). At this point I decided I needed to take a photo of the kids in front of the portrait to send to the foster family. We’d taken lots of photos with the camera, but I needed to take one with my phone in order to send it via WeChat. So, I pulled the kids aside quickly, told them to smile and then we walked quickly to catch up with our group. But, being a holiday weekend, it is super crowded here and we couldn’t find them. We stood at the entrance to the Forbidden City for a few minutes hoping they’d come get us, but then I figured they had gone ahead further before realizing we were missing. We went ahead and went into the Forbidden City, but still couldn’t find them. Then I realized that once we entered, we couldn’t exit (at least not in the same general area). So, we stood just on the other side of the long tunnel entrance and waited, hoping they’d come for us. Koen was obviously anxious the whole time, although I tried to convince him we would be fine and that I could get us back to the hotel. In the meantime, we’re standing right in front of some special statue so we’re easy to spot, and many Chinese people are asking to take their photo with us. First they just want Koen in the photo (he’s blondish), then a very nice young lady comes up to me and says “You’re beautiful. Can I take your picture?” This is something I get asked all the time, of course, so we pose together. Then I ask if I can use her phone to try to WeChat a friend who we got separated from, but I’m not tech savvy enough to figure it out and give up after a bit.
Finally the other family in our group walks in. They’re followed by our guide and then several minutes later by Keith. It was a relief and I felt terrible for slowing down their morning – it was probably 20-30 minutes of being separated. It turns out they saw me pull the kids aside for the photo and had stopped to wait. It was so crowded we didn’t see each other once I was done with the photo.
Our guide gave us a nice tour of the Forbidden City – at least some of it. It is huge. It was the palace for the emperors during the Ming and Xing dynasties, from the 1400s to 1911. It was “Forbidden” that the common people enter the area, and the concubines exit. The Empress could only exit if the Emporer gave him permission. There are over 8,000 rooms in the city, and over 800 buildings – each serving a function. The most important building is the highest building, with the best view. In each roof there are animals on the eaves. The more animals – the more important the building.
After walking through the Forbidden City, we ate lunch at a yummy noddle place (where they make their noodles by hand), and then very briefly walked through a Hutong alley (old city Beijing) and around a pretty lake nearby. Then we headed back to the hotel briefly before Li Li and I headed out for some girl time at the Beijing acrobat theater.
We had opted to just send us girls as the cost is expensive, and Min Hui probably wouldn’t sit through it well. It really was a treat. The highlight was probably the motorcycle men in the big ball. It’s pretty cool to see 1 or 2 motorcycles go around in those, but they kept adding more and more motorcycles. I was nervous to watch, not wanting to watching death happen in front of me. They got up to 8 motorcycle riding men, perfectly timed and choreographed to go around and around without hitting each other. There were also amazing balancing acts, bicycling stunts, tumbling, dish spinning (on sticks), hat juggling, contortion type things, ballet poses on top of heads….. Pretty cool. Our guide escorted us there and home via the subway, at our request.
Tomorrow we head to the Great Wall, which both kids are quite excited about. After that I believe we’ll drive by and pose in front of the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Min Hui is doing well. He actually did get two pretty good naps in and then fell asleep nicely tonight. He has an eye that’s been watering today, so we’re not sure what that’s about. He also still coughs sometimes. He was delighting our guide with his funny cackle. We have a new game with him – which we discovered when Keith had the hiccups on the way home from our trip to Huazhou the other day. When we’re holding him, we can jump as if we have the hiccups and Min Hui laughs and smiles. Sometimes he really works himself up into a giggle. It’s quite contagious.
At this point we are still calling him Min Hui or Hui Hui. He sometimes turns his head to those calls, but doesn’t respond at all to Micah yet. I imagine we’ll ease into Micah as he picks up more English (at least understanding it that is). We’re back in an area where we’re getting plenty of stares. Today a man, who was actually being nice, tried to tell us that they can do surgery to fix his lip. We pointed at Li Li’s scar and said we know.
In case I’m not able to post tomorrow, I wanted to let you know you are welcome to meet us at the airport on Monday. No pressure though – we know we will have family there, and some friends. We are flying Delta direct from Beijing and should arrive at 1:10 pm. After arriving we need to go through customs, which can take a while, but it’s hard to say how long. I have no idea how exhausted we’ll be, but it will be worth celebrating Micah Min Hui becoming an American, and coming to his new home together.