Monday, January 8, 2018

Day 1: Beijing the splendor of walking down history!

So lets do this....
I thought I will collect all pictures from the 4 families that traveled together to China, make pretty albums and then share the blog post.
Well that never happened, I have not even seen my own pictures yet!!!

But I should definitely get to writing about China, else, well I will forget!

Day 1: Beijing: Tianamen Square, Forbidden City, Hutong Tours

Our first destination was Beijing... we landed in the evening at our hotels right in the city center which for us "rule breakers" is amazing!!
Why "rule breakers?", i will get to it! I promise!

Day 1: Jet lag kicked in and we feasted on the breakfast at 6 am and had loads of coffee, fruits and local deliciousness.
Our first "touristy" thing to do was of course: Tianamen Square, Forbidden City!!
We boarded the bus, got our ear pieces ready and walked and walked. Tianamen Square has 109 acres and laden with square tiles and at any given time, it is claimed that over 100,000 soldiers can stand on those square tiles in uniform lines! that's magnificent and impressive. We walked, the kids were tired and jet lagged, it was cold, but we trudged along!

Took our favorite jumping shots, and moved on to Forbidden City.

All the "Silk Route" stories came to life. It was splendid. Our guide was well informed and above all would spin tales of luxury and comforts while us regular people would wonder, man!! At the same time the contrast of lives of the kings to their "servants" would shock us and really the disparity and lack of human respect would make us teary eyed.
I am glad this forbidden city's history is over and I can walk on the beautiful courtyards and remind my daughters, human life is human life, no one big, no one is small!!!

The architecture, the uniformity, the Feng shui elements and above all a courtyard with no drainage pipes (since the stones are laid out in 7 floors below the ground level and the drains are below the 7th level) amazed me the kind of engineering and ingenuity that era of builders had. It is a tour highly recommended, though touristy, it is just worth it!

The garden at the end of Forbidden city was just amazing. There was a local Chinese school trip and looking at those kids giggle at us, give us hi fives and respond with laughter when we greeted them with "Nee Hao" was one of the best experiences I feel. No matter what you look like, laughter is universal!

A little secret to surviving Forbidden City: Get a tour guide before hand and if you can take a private tour. In our group we had 40 people and the tour guide was good, it turned out to be more expensive and due to sheer size, we lost some elements!

We went for late lunch after and the vegetarians headed to Pizza Hut, my goodness, I have not had pizzas as good! There was also a dessert orange pizza. Who knew!

In the evening we returned and decided to take it a little easy which of course for us means, freshen up and back on the road! And here is where the rule breakers kick in..... but the "rule breakers" and explorers we are..... we looked up maps, took a local train and headed out for the Hutong tours. Hutong is "older Beijing" with narrow alleys, old houses and magnificent old school architecture.

This was an experience, since it involved us taking the wrong exit at the train station, being lost walking an hour in bitter cold with the kids and then eventually finding the place which resembled "A red lantern".... I mean that area was lined with karoake shops, pizza places dotted with dim sum houses under the iconic red lanterns of China under the willow trees.  Aaah, it was worth it!

The kids by now were beyond exhausted so a few of us headed back in cabs this time. I few of us hung out a bit more and then took the cabs back! I do wish we had taken the right exit to spend a little bit more time here, but I think being lost in the alleys, nudging the kids along a little more, avoiding their tantrums with candies and stories will be a memory! But these kids were the true stars of the day! After a 14 hour flight, a jet lagged morning, they pretty much stayed happy and enjoyed the process with us!

Of course, we returned to our hotels and had massages booked, 90 minutes of bliss and we knocked off!!

Next Day: Ooooh, the highlight: Great Wall of China

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