We had a long but uneventful flight from Seattle to Seoul. Then a short flight from Seoul to Beijing. We arrived in Beijing at 8 pm May 23rd. We had a slight moment of panic because our guide was not at the airport waiting for us like we expected her to be. Have no fear! After about 10 minutes of waiting, she came running in with a sign that said "MILLER" on it. Whew! The combination of our early arrival and her getting caught in Beijing traffic caused the slight delay. We checked into the Inner Mongolia Grand Hotel, were assigned a room that was WAY too small, waited for a few more minutes, went up to a new floor, and got settled into a room that's just right. It has a king sized bed, a comfy couch, and room on the floor for one girl to sleep on the air mattress we brought.
After a mediocre night sleep, we had a hearty breakfast, met another family that we will be with our entire trip, and met up with our guide, Helen, for our day's outing: Tian An Men Square, Forbidden City, and Hutong Tour. The weather was drizzly but plenty warm--perfect!
|The Millers and Chairman Mao. (We opted OUT of seeing his crystal coffin.)|
|Sort of like a leash...except for children...touring in foreign countries.|
|Entering the Forbidden City, where the Emperor of China used to live.|
|These cobblestones are hundreds of years old.|
|Funny Chinese signage|
|CRAZY power lines at an intersection|
|Yummy spicy beef noodles for lunch. Those orange things are my chopsticks.|
After lunch, it was time for our Hutong Tour. "Hutong" means small street/alleyway. This is the oldest section in Beijing, with the homes being hundreds of years old and protected by the government. There are families living in them to this day. They are small by American standards. And, most interesting, many of these homes share a common public toilet.
|That's Simon and Gem behind us.|
|Here you can see the narrowness of the "hutong."|
|The very top of the Bell Tower, which used to be rung to herald in the morning|
|Talking myna birds in the courtyard of one of the homes we visited in the Hutong|
|The woman in white was our Hutong tour guide.|
|Here we are posing in some family's Hutong house around their ancestral shrine, I think. |
(Is that a chamber pot under the table????)