Category archives: Beijing

Too Much Fun Too Little Time

Sorry to keep everyone on the edge of their seats but we’ve been going a mile a minute and haven’t had a lot of downtime to reflect. Right now we are in Hengfeng, Jiangxi Province (you can find it by searching on a map for Shangrao, Jiangxi, China) and heading back to Nanchang, the provincial capitol of Jiangxi.

We visited the orphanage (SWI) yesterday and far too many thoughts are bouncing around in each of our heads right now to put them down. We’ve been enjoying lots of good meals – so far our only casualty is Catherine who was brought low by a viral bug yesterday. We don’t think it was the food since we’ve all been eating the same local foods. Some are great and we are trying to figure out how to recreate them, and others well may be an acquired taste.

Unlike our last trip to China we don’t have the built in down-time that having an 11-month baby brings you. On our previous trip we’d take an afternoon nap each day and then be back in the hotel room by 7 or 8 pm each night. On this trip we’ve been out late each evening with little hanging out time – that wasn’t spent catching up on jet lag.
We are taking lots of pictures but uploading them is problematic to say the least. We’ll try to post more later this week. For now here are a few pictures from our time in Beijing.

The big trend right now in Beijing is for both men and women to wear barrettes with plastic sprouts and flowers on them.

The big trend right now in Beijing is for both men and women to wear barrettes with plastic sprouts and flowers on them.

The crowds are a bit overwhelming and what's really scary is this isn't seen as crowded.

The crowds are a bit overwhelming and what’s really scary is this isn’t seen as crowded.

 

Li Li and Poppy out for an early morning walk in the Hutong.

Li Li and Poppy out for an early morning walk in the Hutong.

 

Riding the bus was an adventure to say the least - for only 10 Yuan (about $1. 60) 5 adults and Li Li got to experience a classic part of Beijing life and get shouted out at with equanimity by the three bus staff.

Riding the bus was an adventure to say the least – for only 10 Yuan (about $1. 60) 5 adults and Li Li got to experience a classic part of Beijing life and get shouted out at with equanimity by the three bus staff.

Li Li and Rocky (the class raccoon) outside of the Forbidden City.

Li Li and Rocky (the class raccoon) outside of the Forbidden City.

Quick Update

Between the vagaries of internet access and our jam-packed schedule we haven’t been able to update the blog. But we are having a great time, eating some amazing food (even if we don’t know what it always is) and meeting some very fun people. OUt time in Beijing was too short, as will be our time in Xi’an. We leave tomorrow for Nanchang and visit Li Li’s orphanage (formal name is Social Welfare Institute, abbreviated as SWI) on Thursday and then fly to Chengdu on Saturday. Hopefully we’ll be able to upload some photos and put some of our thoughts and observations down on paper. I’ll leave you with this image showing both the scale and the crowds at the Forbidden City. -t

Forbidden Shadows

We’re Here

The cavernous arrival hall is a bit surreal after the long flight.

The cavernous arrival hall is a bit surreal after the long flight.

After a very long and unusually uncomfortable flight we’ve made it to Beijing. After checking into our hotel in the hutong, we went out for Li’s Li’s favorite food – Dumplings. It might have been 50 feet from our room. The dumplings were tasty and the beer was cold. Pretty much a perfect dinner after a long flight.

Our hotel is very nice – a boutique hotel in the center of one of the hutongs. Very chic. As we were cearing customs, i Li worked her magic once again. After we got off the plane Li Li said “I have to go to the bathroom”. And the only bathroom was on the other side of immigration. After waiting in line about 15 minutes she began to do the leg crossing dance and I went over to a security to ask where the bathroom was, pointing to Li Li and he pulled us out of line and put us in the Chinese National line which had no wait. We quickly cleared the line and the agent let Li Li through before even starting to do mine. I’ve never seen anything like that before – our daughter can charm a nameless immigration official.

DSC_0012

The alley leading to our hotel – The Orchid.

The traffic and smog lived up to their billing – although Beijing drivers would have no problem adapting to Boston roads. I love that discombobulated feeling of being driven in a new country and just gaping at all the new sites and noticing things. For one Beijing has so many electric scooters – they are fast and silent sneaking up on you without any warning. The countdown timers at the intersection just seem to exist to let the driver know that to speed up before the light changes. Public restrooms smell about the same no matter where you are.

Li Li is fascinated by the women making the dumplings at dinner this evening.

Li Li is fascinated by the women making the dumplings at dinner this evening.

Random person on the street English skills have greatly improved, or my Chinese is significantly better. Odds are much, much better on the former.

Finally my normal wired excitement at being in a new place is as present as ever. I went walking for an hour after the Catherine and Li Li went to bed and I’m still wired. Tomorrow we’ll head off and do touristy things – Forbidden City, hutongs, Lama Temple, and dinner of course will be roast duck. Could it be anything else?

That’s all for now although I’ll leave you with one final picture. -t

Li Li and Catherine digging into Ma Po Do Fu - quite good with a robust salty flavor.

Li Li and Catherine digging into Ma Po Do Fu – quite good with a robust salty flavor.

 

 

 

 

Ghaungzhou to Beijing

We’ve discovered a new low (or high) in uncomfortable travel experiences – we flew on a wide body jet with a 3-4-3 seat configuration. The seats were small and there was so little leg room that my knees touched the seat in front of me, before that person reclined. Luckily for us there was an empty seat next to Catherine. We slimmed down to 5 carry-ons (Catherine was mortified). One a rolling bag with porcelain, my backpack again with porcelain and a few odds and ends, Catherine’s backpack with paperwork and ipods, a camera bag w/computer and oh yeah a diaper bag for the star of the trip. Lili did great, only crying a little bit and sleeping most of the 3-hour flight. Although we did have a diaper bag accident with the bag of medicines – children’s tylenol makes a sticky mess of everything when it leaks in the TSA approved 1-quart ziploc bag.

We just started getting a taste of the New Year’s travel rush, imagine Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years combined into one massive countrywide week-long holiday and you aren’t even close. But everything went smoothly and our travel guide for the group trip had arranged a hotel rep to meet us at baggage claim which made getting to the hotel really easy. We took a nap and then went out for a walk. Even here in Beijing, Lili attracted attention, although not as much as in Nanchang. We are in an airport hotel and there is this neighborhood with shops, stores, etc. Although we saw a fireworks store Catherine wouldn’t let me buy New Year’s fireworks because they are illegal to set off until Feb 17th here in Beijing. Of course it sounds like a war zone outside of our window right now with lots of small firecrckers,  many large booming explosions and occasional visible bona fide “bursting in air” fireworks. Go figure. Maybe when we get home I’ll try to track down a long string of firecrackers to celebrate the New Year and to celebrate our daughter’s birthday. You have to love a tradition which encourages you to make lots of noise with gunpowder.

Dinner was excellent at the hotel restaurant. I’ve discovered a great new dish – eggplant with chili sauce and minced pork – tasty. We had essentially the same dish yesterday for lunch – it’s almost like a chinese ratatouille. Even here in our airport hotel there are vendors selling the core staples of the chinese tourist trade – chops (the stone seals used in traditional calligraphy); chopsticks; glass globes with paintings inside them; carvings of animals; chinese clothing; etc. Basically we could have waited to buy stuff until our last night in China because almost every thing we bought is available here – or at least a close facsimile thereof.

Lili is not sleeping well tonight. Lots of unconsolable crying – we think it’s gas but who knows. As soon as she, uhm, toots for lack of a better word, she smiles and is able to go back to sleep. This has know happened twice – the first time she cried for over an hour. This time it was only 10 minutes.

Well it’s time to shut down the computer. Depending on how tomorrow goes there may be an update from Japan, otherwise it could be a while. And yes, for the thousands (okay tens) of fans out there we’ll keep blogging although probably not as frequently. -t