Color me surprised. The sun is out in Beijing and you could see a sky that was actually blue.
We are travelling off-and-on with 5 other families with adopted daughters. We meet each other after breakfast and I managed to forget every other parents’ names almost immediately. (I’m horrible at that.)
Our first tour bus first stop was at the Summer Palace. A beautiful 726 acres with gardens and lakes. Princess Cixi possessed a marble boat permanently moored to its shores. Described as an “Imperial retreat from Beijing’s summer heat” on our map, it was still quite hot on this day. And, at least for today, there were five elderly Chinese gentlemen playing polka music in one of the gazebos.
Afterward, we drove by the Olympic Bird’s Nest stadium and the Cube aquatic center which is now a water park. It was adjacent to a large hotel whose towers loosely resembled the humps of a dragon. I don’t know the exchange rate between that hotel’s “Chinese 7-star” rating and the western star rating of hotels, but it did look nice.
We next visited the Derun Jewelry store across the street, housed under the bleachers of the National Olympic Sports Center Stadium. While it was a odd place to put a retail store, the place had a very nice selection of pearl jewelry with necklaces upwards of US $30,000. The girls got to string their own mother of pearl necklaces for free. Nothing like manual labor to teach them the value of a
To give the girls a feel for typical Chinese life, we took pedicabs to a local family’s Hutong home for lunch. As Claire and I were ridden through the ancient alleyways, she reported that we should do the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure this way in the future, with me pedaling the single speed pedicab and her resting in the padded back with a canopy overhead. The brake was a cable running the length of the frame which he stomped down on with his foot to slow the vehicle down. It didn’t seem too effective as we ran into Chris’s pedicab at least once.
The authentic Chinese lunch was delicious and varied and the patriarch kept filling my cup with Yanjing Beer as we ate. The place was cozy with just three 10×10′ rooms, but it seemed very nice by Hutong standards. It had a room air conditioner and flat screen TV. The father introduced himself and shared with us his collection of pets: a dog, crickets and grasshoppers. (This spooked some of the wives and daughters at the dinner table, including my own.) He also brought out several newspaper clippings and magazines that showed that his dog and crickets were prize-winning. They certainly were large enough. After dinner the eleven girls in our group made small kites to take home.
I pointed out to Katie that had she not been adopted by us, she might have been raised in home similar to this one. I think she’s still mulling that over.
In the evening we were one of two families that attended a performance of the Acrobatics Legend of Jinsha. it was open seating, but we got a decent view from the side where we able to read the theatre rules before the performance on an LED screen hung above the stage. One of the rules: “Do not throw peel and waste paper tithin [sic] the thiatre [sic].” Apparently it wasn’t obvious that the place shouldn’t be trashed.
After listening to a few songs off Adele’s latest album, the show was a pleasant, hour-long variety act that included jugglers, balancing acts and ended with five motorcycles riding the interior of a spherical cage.
Maybe this would have been a career choice for Katie had she stayed in China.