Tuesday, September 9, 2008

We're surviving!

Yay, I finally got my computer working in our hotel room, so now the updates will be more frequent and with pictures! I just needed the only converter piece that I didn't have... and Ron had one! Thanks honey! I'll go back and add pictures from my other post too...

So, let me back up to yesterday. Yesterday morning was good! We had slept for 12 hours (after 36 hours of awakeness, this was great!), so we were up and ready to go go go! First we wandered around Tiannamen Square for a little bit... the Chinese are fabulous gardeners, and there was a huge flower display about the Paralympics in the Square. We found the cyclist of course!

Tiannamen Square

After Tiannamen Squre, we walked to the Temple of Heaven. Yeah, it was a long walk! Totally worth it though... it was acres and acres of beautiful grounds, full of roses and cypress trees, and very cool old buildings. Loved the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests the best.

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests at Temple of Heaven

After walking around the Temple of Heaven, we went shopping at the Pearl Market, which just happened to be in the neighborhood! Wow.... at the markets, you bargain, bargain, bargain, and I'm surprisingly good at it! We scored several necklaces a piece, and moved more shopping in the Liulichang district. There they make "chops", which are special carved stamps. I got one with my name on it carved just for me! Very cool!

Shopping for Chops

And then, the day kinda went downhill on us! We had missed lunch in all the excitement of the Temple of Heaven and shopping, so we were pretty hungry by dinner time. We stopped in a little restaurant close to our hotel, and ordered by picture what we were assured was chicken. It may have been chicken, but not chicken meat really... just fried pieces of something very cartilagenous... must have been neck or feet! Ugh! That was kind of disastrous, but we were in a hurry to get to the Beijing Opera, which we had bought tickets for at the hotel. So we set off to find a taxi, and let me just say, that is a challenge anytime in the evening! Our major problem was that we were walking along busier streets, and were separated from the street itself by a little guardrail like fence. We might have well have been trying to hail a cab on I-65 back home! We walked and walked to get rid of the little fence... thought we were gonna miss the show! Finally we got a taxi and got ourselves to the Opera, but after the first half of the show, we wished we had missed it after all. It is, I could say, an acquired taste.... the first half was basically a lady with a singing voice that sounded like a cat singing and talking to an actor dressed to look like an old man. We didn't understand one bit of it, and it was mostly dialogue, not singing. Many people left at intermission, but we stuck it out and stayed for the second half, which was a good bit better. It was something about the Fight of the Monkey King, and multiple characters were jumping and tumbling about the stage without any singing. We survived, caught a taxi back to the hotel without too much trouble, and went to bed early.

The Opera

Today was a new day. Rainy, but new. We slept in, and then spent the morning at the Confucius Temple and the Lama Temple. The architecture at both was breathtaking... and so was all the incense at the Lama Temple (Buddhist, with lots of Buddhas and even monks!). The Lama Temple had a huuuuge Buddha carved from a single sandalwood tree, with a marker from Guiness Book of World Records to prove it. It was something like 85 feet tall. No pics of it was inside and no pictures allowed!
Confucius statue

Confucius Temple

After the temples, we taxied it out to the Paralympic Village to see Ron! We hung out with him there for a while, then escorted Ron and a few of the guys to the Silk Market to go shopping...our specialty! We helped them bargain on pearls for their wives and silk dresses for their daughters, and of course picked up a few trinkets for ourselves! :) We have GOT to stop shopping! The boys took off quickly back to the Village, and mom and I ate some pizza (no mysterious chicken parts this time!) and made our way home, this time via subway!! It has rained all day, and hasn't stopped yet! It better not rain for the races on Friday and Saturday!!!

Us at the Village

Well, that's it really... tomorrow cousin Butch arrives, which we're looking forward to very much! Will update again soon!