Thursday, November 29, 2007

Did you know

That in the past few days we have had:

Several typhoon warnings and torrential rain
A 6.0 earthquake
A hotel siege and coup attempt

Now, who wouldn't want to come visit us?

The end

Our final installment on the Beijing trip began with yet another market. Every weekend over 3,000 vendors gather at the dirt market for some serious bargaining. I am always up for bargaining and I think I'm pretty good at it. The Philippines has trained me well. In China, the game is much more serious. They started the prices so ridiculously high that in most cases we ended up paying 10 to 20% of what the original asking price was. It was fun. Nate was exhausted packing around all my hard earned bargains and while I could have gone on for a few more hours, he and Holden were begging to go. I think the extremely heavy vases I bought last were the final straw!

Holden doing a little bargaining himself

The statue portion of the market

The tin toys

stalls and stalls of vases and teapots

After we stopped to drop our packages at the hotel, Nate went off by himself to the toy store to replace toys that had been left at various locations around the city before it became apparent to a little someone named Holden. With his arms lighter, he stopped at yet another market and did a little of his own smooth talking. Afterwards we were off to see our last tourist spot, the drum tower.

Stairs up!

Just a reminder how great this kid was and that he was a mere 4 year old traipsing around the city constantly being touched and photographed by strangers and told "don't touch that," "don't climb that," and "come here."

View of the bell tower from the drum tower

The drums are pounded every half hour.

Yes, I want to eat this face, don't you?

The light and red color was so great at the drum tower I was set on having pictures taken here.


And continued some more!

We found ourselves at Summer Palace. One of the most beautiful places we went to. It was enormous with lots of ground to cover. Wide open spaces, water, bridges and more. We trekked to the bridge across and back and then left to do one of my favorite things: shop for treasures.

Water calligraphy in Summer Palace

We went to Liulichang Street, which used to be the cultural center for artists during the Ming dynasty. There are shops and shops of art supplies, paintings, scrolls and chops. No, not chopsticks, chops are a signature seal that is used in China especially on paintings to mark their authenticity as well as everyday to sign a check or a card. In additon we found a paper cutting and a few paitings in this area.

Holden waiting while the artist carves his chop

She lets him do calligraphy while he waits

The finished product

Typical guy picture! :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Beijing continued

I love this picture of Holden just inside The Forbidden City. The bike going by was so typical and frustrating but I think it captures a little of the culture of our trip.

Our next day in Beijing found us touring The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Luckily you can start at one sight and work your way down to the other with A LOT of walking.

View of Coal Hill from The Forbidden City

Inside the walls

Soldiers marching between The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.

Nate and Holden at the Square, it is huge and there are cameras everywhere yet absolutely no acknowledgement of what happened in 1989.

Nate checking his map...this was how he looked frequently throughout the trip but we never got lost! Even on the subway.

Yes, we bribed our child the entire vacation with a trip to the toy store and other spoils...Beijing is not exactly the BEST place to take a 4 year old, but as I said before he was a trooper! After the long walk we took the subway(which Holden loved) to the toy store. I love finding toys you would never see in America. We didn't get this, but we DID find some transformers a puzzle map of China and a couple of Chinese.
Here is Holden with a 100. Holden is always asking for a 100. In Manila 100 in the equivelent of 2 bucks, in China is is about 14 dollars. I can't wait until we are back in America and he asks Nate in his very loud booming voice, "DAD, can I have another 100?"
We ended up the day at the theatre watching the amazingly talented acrobats.

The Great Wall and Temple of Heaven

I really wanted to spend my birthday on the Wall itself. We found a driver online and did a bunch of research about the best part of the wall to go to. Many are overcrowded with tourists and other are too far of a drive with a 4 year old! We decided on Mutianyu section of the wall. It had a ski lift up to the wall where you can walk around a bit (ok, a lot) and then take a toboggan down.
The wall was really quite steep and slanted in places but Holden was a trooper! He walked and walked and walked and wanted to walk some more, but we had more adventures ahead. We were really lucky since it was a clear sunny day since many of our days in Beijing were foggy and overcast which made it even colder.

Some of the funny translations in China are on the signs.

After the Wall, we were off to the Temple of Heaven, where we came to realize just how tired Holden was! We bundled him up and carried him most of the way through the 2km trek.

One of the funniest things everywhere we went was people wanting to take our picture especially Holdens. Whole tour groups would stop and take turns posing with our "Golden Holden." You can imagine that by the end of the week he was all photographed and touched out. We had to keep telling him to put his hat back on so he wouldn't get touched as much.
Here is a group posing with Holden.

During my turn "packing H around" we stopped to play taichi rouli ball. We even bought a set so we can play at home.
When we got back to the hotel, Nate had arranged a birthday cake, and we celebrated my 29 years and our exhaustion.

The basics

If you recall my 28th birthday was celebrated the day we arrived in Manila, so this year to celebrate the culmination of surviving a year in the Philippines, my 29th birthday and Thanksgiving all thrown together we went to Beijing.

Our hotel and room.
It was a fabulous trip. We decided to forgo a big hotel and stay at which is located in a local hutong As tourists, it gave us a very different view of China!

The hutong we stayed in.

We bought warm chestnuts at the market and it was so cold Holden held them in his hands to keep them warm.
Fruit kabobs for sale on the street

The food we found was delicious from the noodles to the dumplings and pork sandwiches. Holden was on a mission to find a fortune cookie, but we have found that fortune cookies tend to be an American only thing!
corn on the cob at the Forbidden City

Starbucks...made in China
Our all time favorite at the Wangfujing market. haha

And most importantly, the most basic...the restrooms. This is not a joke my dear reader. THIS IS FOR REAL! And this....this is NICE compared to many. I're jealous aren't you!