I should have known better. I smugly said to John on Wednesday (or was it Thursday? Probably Thursday. I can’t keep the days straight.) “This is awesome – I think I escaped jet lag. I feel totally normal.”
Bwahahahahahahahaha. Thanks, universe, for listening to me and giving me a smack upside the head. I have been dying these last few days. The other night I went to bed at 11pm and was up for good at 2am. Not much better the next night. And tonight… well, I don’t think I’ll be sleeping very well because OMG WE MEET BEATRIX NAN YU TOMORROW.
So, a roundup of the last few days. Apologies - this will be long.
Temple of Heaven. We started Saturday morning at Temple of Heaven, wandering around the park outside while we waited for our guide. I think that might be my favorite thing I’ve done so far – just watching the older Beijingers gather in the park to exercise, talk, and play “Chinese Cheese” (as my friend called it). Watching the people dance and do tai chi and sing and stretch was… I don’t know how to describe it. I only wish our parks were more like this. It was such a simple but beautiful experience to watch these people go about their morning routines. In the states, people are too embarrassed to dance or sing in public (I admit, I would have been too self conscious to join in), but here, no one worries. They do it because they love it and it feels good.
Olivia as Rock Star. We’d been told that people often ask to take pictures with westerners, but it had only happened once on Friday (some dude in the hutong took our picture as we walked down the street) and I didn’t really expect it because we aren’t tall or blonde or especially interesting looking. Yesterday was a whole different story… Olivia was like a mini rock star. “Please, picture with her? Picture with you?” She was SUCH a good sport about it, even though I know it made her uncomfortable. By the end, she was flashing the peace sign with the best of them. I said to her, “You DID ask George to be a famous rock star, right? This is good practice.” I’m pretty sure her eyes are still stuck in the back of her head in response.
Forbidden City. You all, I knew it was big, but I didn’t know it was THAT BIG. It truly is a city, and it’s phenomenally gorgeous. The pictures don’t do it justice – I couldn’t capture the size and the magnificence with a puny 50mm lens.
Olivia vs. the Squatty Potty. You know she gamely tried our first day here, then changed her mind. Well, the other night she had to pee and there was no other alternative. That child took five full minutes to pee and has sworn off squatty potties for the rest of her life. “It was haaaaaaard.” I suspect that it was more because it was a modern SP (that sounds like an oxymoron, no?) that auto-flushed every time it sensed movement -- it flushed every single time Olivia moved, which was at least 10 times. And Olivia has had A Thing About Auto-Flush Toilets since she was potty training, so this just cemented her hatred. (On the other side of the spectrum, I was expecting SPs to be horrible, and they aren’t, at all. People made them sound like the portal to hell and possibly like some horrible eight-headed, twelve-armed creature was going to rise up and bite your arse. While they aren’t the most comfortable things ever, I’ve only seen a two-headed, four-armed creature rise up and it didn’t even have any teeth to bite with. So.)
Food. John was all about the organ meat at dinner last night. Again. This time, duck intestine. Unsurprisingly, he had the whole plate of it to himself. Olivia’s struggling a little now that we’ve been here for almost a week; she hasn’t eaten much, with the exception of the roasted duck skin that you dip into sugar so that it dissolves in your mouth. She will roshambo anyone for the last piece of that on a plate.
Jennifer vs. the sink. After four or five days of being so super careful about not using the tap water to brush my teeth, I almost slipped this morning. I pasted my brush, turned on the tap, and was mere inches away from the stream of water before I realized what the heck I was doing.
On feeling like a hotel thief. John went to check out this morning and I went back to the room to gather our things. As I was zipping up the last suitcase, the doorbell rang. Instead of John, it was a housekeeper. She came in and meticulously counted everything (pillows, towels, slippers, bottles of water, remote controls, tea mugs) and opened all of the cans of Pringles in the mini bar to ensure they were still sealed and full and we hadn’t eaten them and just put the lid back on. When she was satisfied that we hadn’t stolen the bed or a chair or the tea kettle, she called down to the front desk to say all was ok. I guess the Hotel G is pretty protective of its Grumpy Pillows.