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Thursday, March 1, 2012

March 1, Thursday

If the goal of today was to stretch out our bodies after the long flight, then mission accomplished!  We walked miles and miles.  And strangely we didn't get past the Forbidden City and Tienanmen Square.
selling a candy-ish on a stick to a child from the back of a  motor bike

Our hotel, Hotel Novotel, is a 20-ish minute walk to the Forbidden City.  But walking around the Forbidden City is akin to walking around Disneyland.   So all the pretzel-like kinks that the the travel here created have been sufficiently worked out, but tomorrow morn may find us with new ones.

The sky is constantly smoggy/foggy/thick...  morning, noon and night.  Liv is using her inhaler more than usual, but it hasn't really bothered me.

view from our hotel window
The cigarette smoke and traffic isn't nearly bad as I had imagined.
It's not nearly as cold as I had imagined.  We layered up, and only Liv had on a thick coat. We did have a couple well meaning Chinese citizens worry about the lack of clothing we had on and tried to "remind" us to dress more warmly.

This is "Frank," a name we lovingly gave him.

Frank showed up as we were passing by the back entrance to the Forbidden City and offered to show us to the entrance.  We thanked him as much as we could with our limited communication and started to go off on our own.  He went ahead about 25 yards, and beaconed us to follow.  This went on again and again for the better part of an hour.  Frank did not want any money.  I think he just found us, these big pasty-white tourists, interesting and was genuinely being nice.  We offered him some money for his time, and he would not accept it.  He did humor me with his photo though, and wrote his name, address, and phone number down, in case we needed anything else.

Approaching a "gate" at the Forbidden City
If it looks like we might just a tiny bit stick out like tourists... it's because we LOOK LIKE TOURISTS!  American tourists at that!  We stick out worse than a sore thumb.   I mean it's humongeously humongous how badly we stick out.   More than I can explain.  Liv says it's like walking the red carpet everywhere we go.   She's putting it more nicely than I would.  This sticking out is remarkable at first and makes me uneasy by mid-day.  Sometimes it's a bit like running a gauntlet.  We seem to be constantly watched, gawked at, and have our photos taken.   So I've started taking photos of the people taking our photo.

Mostly the gawkers are watching our teens, Patch and especially Liv.  Of course Liv's hair is like a glaring spot light.
We've had this type of attnention in Mexico.  But I will say it's different here and a bit unnerving.   We are on display.  We are a wierd oddity.  And I don't think anything can be done to lessen our stick-out factor.  So we just giggle at it and move on.

I have to say, that I strangely savor the constant reminder of what it feels like to be a minority.  It a wonderful blessing to experience what Tess, Jude, and Mazie will live with in our community.

There is nothing I can say that will give the Forbidden City it's justice. I'll get the photos show a tiny glimpse of what it was like
entrance to the Forbidden City and many many toursits
The details are simply amazing.  Everywhere we turn so so much to take in.  I was surprised by the colors and the intricacy of it all.
Liv was mortified that I took a photo in the bathroom.
And as a former teenager myself, I can't say I blame her.  But heck, I needed evidence of my first squaty potty.  Wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined.
After all, it was a 2 star facility.
We finished off our day with dinner of friends of friends at a fancy Chinese restaurant.  I was so glad they ordered, and we tried some amazing things that we never would have tried otherwise.  Lotus root, wood ear fungus, two types of fish, shrimp, something very similar to lettus wraps, duck with bones and all, a walnut salad, pork dumplings, fried rice, and so so much more.  The food just kept coming and coming.  It was an amazing adventure.  And I will say I was quite proud of my teen's chopstick-using skills!
A couple of times during dinner someone told a little humorous anecdote and our hostess put her hands/fingertips gentle covering her mouth and cast her eyes downward and made that stereotypical Asian woman giggle that I've only seen in the movies.  I think this moment will be one of the highlights of the trip for me.  It was such a simple gesture, and I was struck by it.  Silly, but then again I'm crazy.  
birds for sale on the street
Tomorrow's plan involves much more walking again, the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, and Peking duck (or they call it Beijing duck here) for dinner.  
I can not wait to explore more of this country and it's people that Mazie will calls hers.  I hope I am absorbing enough of it to teach her about it someday.  
I seriously doubt that's possible, but I'm sure going to try.

Forgive the typos and picture editing quality.  I just want to get it all down lest I forget even a single detail. 


  1. it sounds amazing! i can't believe tomorrow you will see the great wall! thanks so much for sharing with us.

  2. What a nice guy "Frank" was/is! How sweet. Yes, you stick out....and you will continue to be the center of attention. Do your best to laugh it off.

    And the candy-ish thing they sell on the streets is called tang-hulur. Don't know anything about it, other than its name! lol.

    Keep the photos coming. I am living vicariously through you until we travel again.

  3. Love your photos. I agree--the details in the Forbidden City are amazing! And I don't know if I should tell you this or not, but there are some western toilets at the Forbidden City. I managed to not experience a squatty potty until we visited the SWI. :-)

  4. So glad you all are doing well! And yes we have to meet up in Guangzhou at Lucy's. I'll email you as soon as we get to G. Can't wait to meet you family!

  5. So happy you are enjoying your trip so far. China is amazing, isn't it?! We'll be well on our way this time next week, only a few hours from arrival. Praying we can meet up in Guangzhou. We'll be on the island, staying at the Victory. Can't wait to see photos of Maxie in your arms!!

  6. So happy you are enjoying your trip so far. China is amazing, isn't it?! We'll be well on our way this time next week, only a few hours from arrival. Praying we can meet up in Guangzhou. We'll be on the island, staying at the Victory. Can't wait to see photos of Maxie in your arms!!

  7. I'm so glad to see you're finally there! It's amazing, the history you can feel all around you in China. Can't wait to see you meeting your daughter!

    We tried the candy-on-a-stick stuff in Nanjing - it's small, sour apples - like crabapples - that were dipped in syrup and candied. They're pretty good! Our guide told us to only buy the ones without food coloring though.


  8. Oh your pictures are so great! I cannot wait to go there! Last time I was 24, but I was so short so everyone thought I was a child...they like to pet my hair.

    Enjoy the Great Wall and I hope you get lots of good sleep! So close to meeting Mazie!

  9. Greetings Nancy and all - I remember those places well - and am looking forward to seeing them again some day! Liv is much like our Brittany - hair and all - and yeah, we stuck out pretty bad too, still, it was something fantastic!

    Great joy for y'all - looking forward to more!

    hugs - aus and co.

  10. Hi Nancy! I've been following your blog for quite awhile but have never left a comment....sorry. I've so enjoyed following along though!
    It's crazy because I live in China, in Xi'an, but I was just in Bei Jing and I stayed in the exact same hotel!! I was so blown away! I JUST missed you!I would have LOVED to have met you! So excited for you and your family in this exciting time!

  11. GORGEOUS photos as always. Would love a set of postcards suitable for framing from your images LOL! If you ever put them on etsy or something, let me know as my Forbidden City pics never turn out like this.

    And snow on the Great Wall! wow! We had frigid temps but gorgeous blue skies and visibility for miles and miles on Feb. 1.

    I suppose by now you may have Mazie. Can't wait to read your "WE HAVE HER!" update. :)))

  12. Praying for you each step of the journey.

    I understand about sticking out. In our daily life, we stick out SO MUCH that when we return to the US in the summer, I am glad to just be anonymous. And to blend. If you were here with your entire fam, the stares would be infinitely more because it is just so foreign to have more than 2 children.

    Thank you for the updates.


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