We spent our first full day in Beijing exhausted but happy to finally be in China. We were up way before they started serving breakfast, and were second to the buffet when it opened at 6:00 AM. The only people that beat us were another family in our adoption group who were also struggling with jet lag!
Our agency gives us just enough to do to both show us places that are historically important to China and to keep us awake in an effort to get us on the right time zone.
The first day was Tiananmen Square, the site of the famous student rebellion televised all over the world in 1989. It’s also the place where Chairman Mao declared that a “new China” was happening back in October of 1949.
Tiananmen Square can hold 1,000,000 people, making it the largest public gathering place in the world. There were a lot of tourists, but because we were there on a pretty cold day in winter (not the height of the tourist season), it wasn’t too crowded.
Our fantastic guide George who showed us all of the sites and is our translating lifeline in Beijing.
This is the entrance to the square.
The parliament building, which is similar to our Capital Building where Congress holds session.
The site of Chairman Mao’s “new China” proclamation.
There are a lot of guards in the square and they walk in step with one another everywhere.
Proof that we were actually there.
Tiananmen Square is right next to the Forbidden City, which is where the emperor, his family, and his concubines used to live. Construction was completed in 1420 so keep that in mind when you see the pictures of the amazing architecture there later in the post.
We were there on a pretty cold day (temps were in the 20s), but it made for some beautiful sites, like the frozen moat around the City.
Our guide George posing with Vivi. He’s been doing this for CCAI for almost 10 years, guiding adoptive families around Beijing and teaching them about his home country. He doesn’t work for about a month around Chinese New Year, and a couple of weeks at Christmas. Figuring a couple of weeks off each year too, I estimate he does this about 44 weeks out of the year. That means he has done this tour more than 400 times! You would never know it though. He was full of appreciation for his country and told his stories with excitement.
We actually did not have him with Vivi, so it was great to meet him this time. He’s kind of famous in the CCAI world.
Remember that architecture I mentioned? Here is just a glimpse. The Forbidden City is full of stunning structures and colors, stonework and statues.
I have no idea who the guy in the yellow hat is, but nice photo bomb, dude.
We traveled with some wonderful families in Beijing. Sadly, we are the only ones headed to Nanjing so we won’t see them again until we all hook up in Guangzhou, but it was great to share at least part of the trip with them. One families had four kids – a 5-year-old girl, and 12-, 10-, and 8-year-old boys. It’s like we were living parallel lives. Their 10-year-old’s name is also Micah!
Their daughter and Vivi became fast friends, doing everything together from riding the bus to eating to playing in the Forbidden City. As I’m posting this from Nanjing, I can tell you that we have already had questions like, “What am I going to do now that Allie isn’t with me?” Thankfully they’ll be reunited soon.
We ate lunch at a hutong, a local family’s house. They fed us delicious food. George told us it was the food like you would get when your mom cooks all day – the best there is. We’re grateful to experience that part of Chinese culture. (The two children in the middle of the picture are kids from another family in our travel group.)
We got to the hutong on a rickshaw. Here are Vivi and me and Viv’s friend on the way back after eating.
After the hutong, we took a break back at the hotel where we were told not to nap. One half of us were able to follow those instructions. Liam, Vivi, and I could not resist the power of the nap. We finished off our evening with a dinner of Peking Duck. For some reason, Tim and I didn’t experience that the last time we were here, so we were glad to get to do it this time. What a rich delicacy! There’s a lot that I can’t eat in China, mostly because of the frequent use of soy sauce that has wheat in it, but the duck I could have. I’m glad I didn’t have to miss it. It was pre-sliced for us (so no chopping the head off ala “A Christmas Story”) and is in the middle of the table in this picture.
Next stop, the Great Wall!