12/27/2001 - Beijing,
Meet our travel group
On WangFuJing Street, we
found a little diner where we had our breakfast. It is one of the small
eating places next to the big oriental place. The food is good but price
is moderate. After breakfast, we headed to the art museum as a special
request from Joshua. Toby bought Chinese a writing brush-pen and some
bookmarks. These brushes are used to produce the famous Chinese
writings, similar to our calligraphy. This is considered a special form
of art that gets a lot of attention from the Chinese society. The shop
people were very interested in our family. In both Shenyang and Beijing,
people often asked me if Toby and Joshua were twins. It is rare to have
two kids in China unless they are twins. One of the sellers in the shop
admired our two boys but commented that it would be nice to have a girl
to the family too. We told her that we will have one in a few days. She
was very happy for us. She thought that we are very lucky people.
We left the museum and walked to Jinshan Park. This is a small park. The
only thing that is famous is the tree where one of the Chinese Emperors
committed suicide. It is just an old tree trunk. Besides that there are
5 Buddhism temples in this park. They really look like beautiful old
Chinese style Gazebos. Originally there were Buddha in all five of them.
Today, only the largest one in the center on the Top of the hill has a
statue of Buddha left. The five Buddha symbolize the five major
ingredients (spices or taste) in Chinese food, salty, sour, sweet,
bitter and spicy. The park itself is a manmade hill. As we climbed up
the hill to each of the temples, we could see more clearly the city. On
the top of the big temple, we could see the entire Forbidden City. It
was cold but beautiful up there.
From there we went to Beihai Park. It is a huge park where the white
pagoda is. There are a lot of lama budda in this park from Tibet. This
park has mainly worship places or monuments related to Buddhism Tibetans
or so called esoteric Buddhism. There is a huge lake in the park.
Unfortunately, the lake was frozen other wise we could have a canoe ride
in the lake if the weather is warm. But, we had some Kentucky fried
chicken for kids for their delight.
We had dumplings for dinner.
After some rest in the hotel, we went to a Beijing opera. It was fun. We
had tea and cookies while the professional troops played Beijing opera
on the stage. Kids had good time. The three small plays are written for
tourists which are full of fun acts. It may have not been THE famous
Chinese opera which is located in Beijing, but it was very beautiful and
easy to understand for the kids. We taped a short section of it. If
anybody would like to be bored with our tape, please feel free and we
will gladly arrange a showing.
We wandered on the street after the opera and had some fried chicken and
lamb on the stick from the street vendors. Close to our hotel, there is
a small street where many street vendors selling all kinds of food. A
taxi driver told us that this is government regulated marked where
people need to get special permit to sell their and the quality and
cleanliness is monitored by officials. They need to pass a strict
sanitary test and must obey the rules in order to sell there. In other
words, their food is considered safe for visitors like us to eat. There
are some exotic food such as frog legs and grasshoppers which we did not
dare to try. However, we tried some other more common foods and it was
delicious. Needless to say, we did not get sick. Wish us luck, we have
two more weeks to go and eat. One American here had bought a stick with
grasshoppers. We saw him eat the first one with little emotion and then
he offered the other three to us. He said”” I just wanted to try it.” We
politely declined and the grasshoppers ended up in a public rubbish bin.
After we cam back to the hotel Berthold felt sorry that he did not try
the frog legs.
Again, Food is an integral part of the Chinese culture. Whenever you
meet, sit down together, visit somebody or being visited, or just feel
like it you eat. China with its 55 minority nationalities has more
varieties in food than one can imagine. Americans would think that it
could not be any more than in their country – wrong, because you can
also find American and all other kind of ethnic food (Italian, German,
polish etc.) here besides the enormous amount of Chinese varieties. B
Berthold was a little bit concerned about the fact that you can find
Pizza Hut, McDonalds, KFC and many other American fast food chains (no
Burger King). Since they are more expensive than regular Restaurants it
is something special to go their. It nearly appears like this would be
considered “fine dining” or ‘fashion dining”. Berthold is afraid that
this would be of great danger for the future of Chinese culture.
We did not have time to write our
journal during this time. Too busy and too tired. There were so much
things to do in Beijing. While we were on our own, we tried to relax and
did the tour freely. We attracted a lot local people simply because that
Bert does not look like a Chinese and we have more kid too many. Wait we
get our daughter!!
We met our travel group on the 29th. We toured the Forbidden city,
visited a Jade factory and climbed THE GREAT WALL, of course. There were
so many wonderful crafts and arts. But there were so little money left
in our pockets and so little lugage space !!
We left Beijing on the evening of 12/30/01 to Hefei. On our way to pick
up Anna !! Can't wait.