In an earlier post, I had mentioned my wish to experience each moment of this trip, be aware and not let it go by in a blur.
Maybe that wasn't such a good wish to have, what with the not getting any sleep on the flight over and waking up at 2 am...
We've befriended some fellow adoption trip travelers from CHSFS, and they're nice enough to let us use their computer, so here's our update on life in Beijing:
The city itself is fascinating - so huge, so crowded, so alive all hours of the day (and night). We're finding that some of our best entertainment is coming from simply watching the people as they go about their daily routines. From our hotel window we can see kids on their way to school, older folks doing their morning tai chi, and even some choirs rehearsing for (we assume) a competition of some sort yesterday.
Our first morning we were taken on a tour of a hutong district nearby. We rode in a rickshaw and everything. (Nothing screams "tourist" like a couple of big Americans in a rickshaw!) Our group got to visit a public elementary school and see a 4th grade classroom; they practiced their English on us a bit. It was fun to be in a classroom, and I could spot kids right away and think, "Oh, I've had HIM in my class before." Since it was our first day and we'd gotten about three hours of sleep between us, the daytrip was rather exhausting, so we bailed out early and took a taxi back to the hotel. (I decided I'd had enough when our guide said, "Now we'll climb the tower.")
Today went much more smoothly. I won the best sleeper award with a total of nine hours last night. Down at 9, up at 6. Scott woke up at 1:45 and never got back to sleep. He said it made him happy to hear me snoring, though. :-)
Our daytrip today was to the Forbidden City. Learning from yesterday's near heatstroke, I made the very wise and very Chinese purchase of a UV umbrella to carry in the sun. There are no trees in the Forbidden City; the Emperor was paranoid that his enemies would hide in them and jump out to attack him. So, if you want any shade, you've got to bring your own. Best 55 Yuan I've ever spent. (about $7)
Though it was in the 90's with hazy sun, and we were sweating profusely the whole time, we really enjoyed our tour today. The architecture is amazing, and just the sense of tradition and history and yourself standing the center of it is overwhelming. Scott took a lot of great pictures, which we'll TRY to download.
We're adjusting gradually to the time and cultural differences, and we're starting to get our own little pattern of daily life going here. We've found the grocery store and the McDonald's up the street, and we're finding that noodles for dinner is actually quite delicious and filling.
While Beijing is obviously "foreign" to us, we're finding that we see things that are universal and somehow familiar to us. The grocery store reminds us both of shopping at an old Kresge's or Woolworth's as a kid, and watching the middle school aged boys push each other around playfully as they walk by is SO familiar that it's oddly comforting.
One odd fact: It has become evident that I posess a quality that is much coveted and appreciated by our fellow American travelers - the "teacher voice", as Scott calls it. I am the one who has set the standard for telling the agressive street vendors that we're not interested in buying those Mao watches / calligraphy brushes / picture postcards / silk purses ,etc. Apparently, my job has trained me well for saying no in a tone of voice that says, "Don't bother asking me again, 'cause I mean it."
We don't know when we'll be able to get our mitts on a computer again, but please keep checking on our progress.
Two and a half days 'til parenthood! :-)