Day 2 of Beijing excursions: Forbidden City / Rickshaw ride in Hutong / Tiananman Square 5-14-10
We got up early today. It has been hard to sleep late (yes, I did say that, and it is me, Kathi, posting this). Today we started our day at 5:45 am. We just couldn't sleep anymore. This China time difference has been sort of difficult to adjust to. We are tired by 6:00 pm and awake at various times during the night.
Meigan fell asleep again tonight right about 6:00. This is day number 3 doing that. Fortunately we had a late lunch again. She has not eaten supper for 3 nights now. Fortunately she eats a good breakfast and lunch, so it's not a big deal.
Today we met our whole travel group. Together in a bus we went to Tiananman Square, Forbidden City, lunch at a Chinese restaurant, Silk Factory, and went on a Hutong tour in a rickshaw. It was all fun, but tiring.
Tiananmen Square was very interesting but kind of eerie. Knowing those Chinese were injured and/or died there in the name of democracy was creepy.
Next was Forbidden City. Forbidden City was the palace of the Ming & Chin Chinese emperors. It was huge. It was like a city. There were tons of Chinese people there. Navigating through the sea of people was challenging. At one point a huge crowd of people descended upon the view to the emperor's throne. We started to try and look but the crowd was so overwhelming we backed off. David did get a picture, but it wasn't taken at the best spot possible. It just wasn't worth the effort. Near the end of our tour an artist singled David out of our group and sketched his picture on a plate. When he was done he then proposed that David buy the plate. He bought it and the guy pulled out a can of shellac and sprayed it before giving it David.
Once we left the Forbidden City. A lady with a baby approached me and asked me for money (in broken English) to feed her baby. I told her no. I didn't have any money on me. Another one approached David just ahead of me and he gave her some money. Next thing you know women with babies starting coming out of the woodwork. After lady with baby #4 David had to say no. Lady with baby #5 was very persistent, invading David's personnal space and almost demanding he give her money. David told her no several times but she persisted. He finally had to say it like he meant it. Then she went away. Of course there are lots of people having hard times in China. But we have also heard of women using babies as ploys to beg for money and not giving the baby what they need. It's all so very sad.
In the last few days, Brinna (the daughter of the other couple we met in our group)and me have been singled out for photos with Chinese people. They have chosen me several times but Brinna has been treated like a super star. I can't even count how many pictures have been taken of her with Chinese strangers. She has strawberry blonde hair and big pretty blue eyes. She is a major fascination with the Chinese. Everywhere we go the Chinese people that see her are just fascinated with her hair and eyes.
Lunch was good at the Chinese restaurant. Our group was divided into a few separate dining rooms to eat. We ate fairly familiar food that was brought to our table and served on a big lazy susan. I didn't count how many plates of various foods but there had to be at least 10 different dishes brought to us. After the food presentation was done, a girl dressed in traditional Chinese clothes and headdress came to our dining room and stated in English that she would dance for us. She danced a dance in slow motion for a few minutes. She appeared uncomfortable the whole time. When she was done she stopped and just stood there. I whispered to David and said that I thought she was waiting for her tip. We gave her some money and she left. The dancing was not very good.
After lunch we went to the Silk Factory. They gave us a tour on how they grow, harvest, and make silk from silk worms. It was very interesting. It was amazing to see how strong something is that is made out of pure silk. The products they make are just gorgeous and not cheap. We bought a couple of things, but not much based on the prices.
Next was a ride in a rickshaw to see a Hutong village. The rickshaw ride was fun. However, Meigan wouldn't know since she fell asleep before we could get on the rickshaw, Each family got their own rickshaw driver. Since we are such a big travel group we had rickshaws everywhere. We got to go inside a Hutong. Which is a compound of several houses. Each house looks into a shared courtyard. They have no bathrooms, they have to share a common toilet and every few days they go to a public bath house to get clean. They have air conditioning (single wall units). Very interesting and makes me appreciate even more living in the good 'ol USA. Finally, back to the hotel. Meigan never did wake up.