Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday evening 3/14

Today was our first day of touring Beijing. We were supposed to meet our guide, Pan, in the lobby of our hotel at 8:30am. I was a bit concerned about getting up and down there on time because we were so tired last night. However, I woke up at 3:15am and was wide awake. Wayne was up shortly after that. Around 4:30am, Ashlyn was up. It is the oddest thing to be so tired and yet not be able to sleep. We woke up feeling great, but knowing that we should need more sleep.

We headed down to breakfast at 6:30am. We were starving! The breakfast here at the Peace Hotel is a buffet. They have alot of different things. They have the traditional "western" breakfast and then they have "eastern" style breakfast as well. That includes baked beans, fish, all kinds of pork dumpling things, biscuits that are really hot rolls, along with many other things. The food here is odd. You will see many of the things that we see at home and then right next to it, something crazy. We have seen chicken flavored potato chips. The most unusual was this package of flavored chicken feet. Nasty.

Anyway we met our group with plenty of time to spare. The rest of the Holt families except 2 are now here. We are definately the counrty folk of the group. But that is not really all that big of a surprize. They are all really nice and we enjoyed meeting them. Of course we kind of gravitate towards Mike and Debbie. They are just the sweetest people and we have alot in common, not the least being our faith. I thank God for bringing our families together on this trip.
Our first place to see was the Summer Palace. This is where the ancient royalty of China would live/visit. The old buildings are incredible. Pan is very knowlegable about China history and told us alot of stories about the Dragon Lady and life in ancient times. We climbed about a million stairs to the top of this palace and it was beautiful up there. The Summer Palace surrounds a lake and a very cold breeze blew off of it the whole time we were there. Very cold. I hope the girls do not get sick. As you may know, I have been looking for pagodas to collect. Well I sure saw my share of them today.

After that, Pan took us to a Silk Factory where we learned how the Chinese make silk products. They had some very beautiful clothing, bedding, and scarves, but they were somewhat expensive. Pan encouraged us to wait until we get to Guangzhou to do our shopping. That was our plan anyway.

Next we went to a traditional Chinese lunch. I was not sure what to expect from this. However the food was really good. We had white rice and a variety of other dishes like beef and veggies, fried chicken w/peanuts, and chicken with veggies. It was all somewhat similar to American Chinese food, just not as sweet. The girls even ate it, Ashlyn more than Sarah.
We then headed out for our tour of the Forbidden City. This was another area where ancient Chinese royalty lived. We had to walk quite a ways to get to the Forbidden City and then more walking to get inside it. This was our first experience in China with beggers and more aggressive street vendors. This was also the first time that we felt uncomfortable with the attention that we got. Alot of people stared and took pictures. For the most part, it seemed to be friendly curiousness. But it still made our group kind of huddle together. Mike and Debbie are really good about helping us. If the girls feel uncomfortable they can move close to them.
We really are not afraid here. We have had moments of uncomfortable, but not really danger. There is an extremely low crime rate in China, because the punishments are quick and severe. If the crime is corruption for example, you will be killed tomorrow. Sounds severe but everyone obeys the law.

We were really really tired at the end of the day. For supper we just walked down the block to KFC. It was funny, when we walked in, they handed us a picture menu! We ate for a grand total of $12. Pretty good.
Here are some photos of our first touring day.

We may not have eaten there but we still got the picture!

Summer Palace

I cannot get blogger to upload any more pics so these will have to do today!

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