Sunday, January 15, 2017

Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City

Based on suggestions from the hotel staff, we took the subway to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City today (Thursday-I'm posting this a few days later). The subway was fairly easy to use, as everything had English translations and color coded numbers. The weather was cold but sunny, and we ended up walking over four miles with all of our sightseeing and adventures trying to get back to the hotel! 

The size of the complex was huge. After the Tiananmen Square area with the big picture of Mao, the Forbidden City area was one beautiful building after another. I guess it’s officially called Gugong (Palace) Museum now, and it served as the residence for the Ming and Qing emperors. Built in 1420, it includes over 9000 palaces and halls surrounded by a city wall and moat. Yes, I copied that information from a brochure! 

Touring international sites with a four-year-old is definitely a different type of adventure. It takes a lot longer to actually get to the place you’re trying to go, and once you’re there, you move a lot faster through the things you’d actually like to see. And taking pictures is a whole different ballgame. While I used to take the time to frame the perfect shot, play with angles, and get the right things in focus, now it’s mostly point and shoot while keeping on eye on the fast-moving child! 

Jonas did have a lot of fun running around, leading us around with the map, and discovering various statues. He continues to be quite the trooper, even with tons of walking. We had the most fun walking to the top of a hill in Jiangsu Park with a temple at the top. Inside was a huge golden Buddha. The views over the Forbidden City and the rest of Beijing were gorgeous, even if they were a little hazy.

The Keys headed back to the hotel to rest, while Morgan stayed out exploring a bit more. We had kind of an adventurous ride getting back to the subway station. We took a five minute rickshaw ride, and the guy brought us to some empty alley and tried to charge us more than we paid for the taxi from the airport! He was asking for the equivalent of around $50! It was a total scam, and he even had a buddy in on it who “showed up” in the alley to try to act like that’s how much rickshaw rides cost. Ha! Zack and the guy argued back and forth for awhile about the price we said before getting on, and eventually we paid about $7 (still a ripoff) and just walked away. The guy wasn’t happy (neither were we!), but at least he didn’t get violent or anything. It was getting pretty scary there for a bit. I guess we learned our lesson about not taking rickshaws!

After an afternoon of taking it easy, we headed back out for dinner at a restaurant recommended by our hotel. Even though I got the same thing I’ve pretty much been getting for every meal (a big bowl of noodles with flavoring and toppings), it was still delicious. The jet lag hit Jonas pretty hard at 6:30pm, and he passed out the minute we sat down at the table. Zack skipped dinner to stay back and sleep himself, so I’m the only one up around here. I’m hoping to also be the one who’s asleep at 3am when these two boys are wide awake!

Some other observations from today…
  1. Food is so cheap! I thought because Beijing is a big city, the prices would be expensive, but a very large entree costs about $3. It’s awesome! 
  2. Restaurants serve hot water (not tea…just water) as a drink. I guess because it’s cold outside? It actually isn’t bad! 
  3. Chinese people stare at Jonas…even more than they stare at us. I don't know if it’s because he’s an Asian kid hanging out with white people, he stands out because his clothes aren’t those of a typical Chinese kid, or because he isn’t Chinese and people are trying to figure out his ethnicity? Anyway, it’s been interesting to witness people openly stop and stare at him or talk about him. He even got self-conscious about it at one point today and told some people to stop looking at him (not that they understood!). Also, Morgan apparently got asked to take a selfie with a Chinese man today, so Jonas isn’t the only celebrity!
  4. There is usually one person at every establishment who speaks some broken English. As soon as we enter the store or restaurant or whatever it is, everybody calls over that one person to help translate. It’s very helpful, but a lot still gets lost in translation!
  5. When we get cold, we tend to put on more layers on top (shirts, coats, etc.). In China, they layer up more on the bottom…three pairs of pants and such! As I carried sleeping Jonas out of the restaurant tonight, some of the server ladies were tugging at the bottom of his pant legs to cover the small part of his legs that was exposed. They probably thought I was the worst mother!

Well, either the jet lag or melatonin is kicking in, and I’m struggling to stay awake. It’s 8:30pm though, so I made it pretty far! More adventures to be had tomorrow…

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