We arrived in Beijing, by way of a 2 hr layover in Hong Kong on Thurs, 1/29 and got into our hotel around 1pm local time. All in all, we were in the air for about 18.5 hours and it was about 26 hours door to door. Yep, that makes for one tired couple! We enjoyed some Chinese food for lunch (and the BEST jasmine tea!) and rested a bit, then went out for Thai food for dinner after walking around a bit at the local mall. Funny thing was that in neither meal did we get any rice. We didn’t realize we had to actually request it for lunch – we thought it would simply come with the kung pao chicken we ordered, but no (bad American assumption apparently). Then when Chuck ordered the massaman curry for dinner, he did order the rice but the wait staff never brought it (we did get the bill revised when we went to pay).
Capitalism sure seems to be alive and well here in Beijing. A couple pictures from the stores nearby…
This morning we met most of the other families in our agency’s travel group. We will be a group of 10 families for the early part of the trip and then a couple more are joining us in a couple days (they received their Travel Approvals late but thankfully were still able to come before things shut down for Spring Festival – a/k/a Chinese New Year). So fun to meet these other sweet people who are about to love on so many precious children! We spent most of the day together with our great tour guides George and Cecilia and visited Tian’anmen Square first. If you are like us, we really only associate Tian’anmen Square with the student revolts in 1989, but to many Chinese, this area represents the “New China” where they are able to vote for their government leaders every five years and there is no more ruling dynasty and emperor. Below is a picture of where Mao Tse-tung is buried and also the “national congress” building of China (they probably have another term, but this is how our guide described it).
Next we went across the street and walked through the Forbidden City (built 1406-1420). The Chinese people labeled it as such as they, the commoners, were forbidden to enter into this area until 1925 when China’s last emperor Puyi was expelled. It is now more frequently called the Old Palace by the Chinese and covers 1.6 million square feet and is the largest ancient palatial structure in the world. The architecture and the colors were amazing. These pictures do not do it justice, but were my best attempt:
On a lighter note, our guide recommended a quick stop here before we walked further into the Forbidden City.
I was thankful they had some “Western” toilets and not just the squatty potties as they are called. While this was rated “4 stars” – I am not sure what the maximum rating a bathroom can receive by the Beijing Tourism Administration. Ahem… 😉
After the Forbidden City, we all enjoyed a short rickshaw tour in old town Beijing and then had a lovely lunch at a local’s house.
Our kind driver:
The lunch was so, so good! Even Chuck loved it!! Some of our favorites were the dumplings, chicken legs marinated in some sort of wonderful sauce, sautéed cabbage, a fried “chip” with sesame seeds and something called “honey kick” by our guide. Truly we enjoyed every bite – so thankful to have this sort of experience. Here are a couple pictures.
After dinner tonight, we walked just two short blocks and found this night market that our guide had mentioned (only ½ a block down from the Apple store). Some of the food looked sooooo good! Like this:
I wasn’t sure what these were below, but thought they looked cute!
But alas, we heeded the warnings by our guide and only took pictures as we want to do all we can to make sure we don’t get sick from eating something possibly undercooked, etc. However, some of the “treats” needed no warning as we were not all tempted to dive into any of these:
For a reference point, those tarantulas were a good 4” long and those millipede-looking things were at least 10” long.
Then there were the scorpions à la 7” long…
Finally, I was reminded of the line from The Karate Kid, “Patience, young grasshopper.”
In all seriousness though, we are truly so grateful to be able to see all of these things and learn more about China’s history and culture so that we can share all of this with Lucy when she is older.
So, it is now Friday night as I write this – in about two and a half days we will have Lucy in our arms. It all seems so hard to comprehend. Please pray both for us and Lucy – that we would sleep well over these next couple of nights so that we are rested and ready to love on our daughter and be blessed with wisdom from the Holy Spirit on how best to comfort Lucy once we have her in our arms. And for Lucy – please pray that in whatever way her foster family knows best, she is prepared for us. We know this initial transition will be traumatic for her and that breaks out hearts.
On an unrelated note, please also lift up our sister-in-law Lisa who suffered a stroke the night we flew out of Chicago. She is currently paralyzed on her left side but is fighting back with therapy and is able to communicate clearly with our family and the hospital staff. However during a CT scan the doctors also discovered some sort of mass in her abdomen. Obviously all of this is very serious. Please pray that the best doctors and nurses would surround her and also lift up Chuck’s brother Jim and our niece Sarah who are all reeling from this devastating event. May God bring them all a supernatural peace and strength to get through the days ahead.