May 7th

It’s 9:00 pm, and we’ve been going all day. We’re exhausted! To summarize, we ate, walked, walked, ate, walked, walked, walked, ate, saw the Chinese Acrobatic show, and returned to the hotel.

The day started with breakfast, then an 8:30 bus trip to Tiananmen Square. Wayne and I enjoyed shooting photos of people. Little Chinese children would be standing alone, saluting or posing while a mother or father was squatted down several feet away, snapping pictures. There were many military men in green. We had been concerned about taking photos of them, but we were told many of them were visitors themselves. It was cute to see the military men posing for another member of their group to take a picture. One of our co-travelers ended up getting her photo with two of the military men.

On the other hand, we were the subjects of some peoples’ interests. Chinese people would sometimes pose with various members of our group. We would see video cameras and regular cameras pointed our way. Sometimes children would be the subjects of interest. A couple little Chinese girls came up to talk to one of the blonde women. And later a Chinese man was interested in talking to some boys traveling with us. Chinese and Americans flocked around to see the interaction. The boy’s mother encouraged him to say “We’re from the United States” in Chinese as he had learned. He shyly stepped forward and said the words, and there was a sudden eruption of applause from the Chinese onlookers!

Later in the Summer Palace, one of the Chinese women seemed very proud of her baby (a boy, we think) who looked about 8 months old. A couple of our group members flocked around the baby. The mother ended up handing her baby to LeAnn, one of the blonde women. We all snapped pictures as she proudly held the baby in her arms. Amazingly the baby turned toward her and hugged her! Of course there was an instant “Ohhh…” sigh from the group. The baby was surprised and started crying! Poor thing! The mom whisked him away, as we all said, “We want our babies now!” (As I’m writing this, we’re on the countdown mode – about 43 hours til we have our new family members.) We’ve all been admiring the children we’ve seen. There are few of them around here, as expected because of the one-child rule. There is a 3-yr-old Chinese girl traveling with us, and she’s frequently hearing praised of “you’re cute” from the travelers and the Chinese women. Wherever she goes, the Chinese women grin and light up.

After Tiananmen Square we went to the Forbidden City, which is where emperors basically barricaded themselves in, with rows of walls and outer buildings, and with 15 layers of brick in the floors! The City went on and on – soon we were commenting that everything was looking similar, and “it’s like the Energizer Bunny, it keeps going and going…”

Lunch was another Chinese feast. About 10 people sit at a table, and the staff brings out dishes of food every few minutes, placing it on the large Lazy Susan in the middle of the table. Soup is the last thing to come out, other than some sliced fruit as dessert.

Then on to The Pearl Factory, where we had a brief tour of the making of fresh water pearls by seeding the oysters to produce about 10 to 15 pearls in 5 years. The demonstration included the workers opening one oyster, finding 11 pearls, and handing them to many of us. I did get one pearl. It’s pink and oval. Then upstairs to the jewelry store. Luckily I’m not enticed by pearls.

Next was the Summer Palace, which is a large park. Most unique was a long walkway under roof with ornate decorations.

Then more food. Chinese again, same style, same saucer-sized plates. As we looked at the leftovers, we felt a little guilty – after all, as our moms said, “Don’t you know there are starving children in China?” As kids we all used to say, “Well give the food to them,” but gee, it would be much easier to do that around here.

Although we were all exhausted, half of us went to the Chinese Acrobatic show, which was quite good. Now we’re back at the hotel and very ready for bed. G’night!

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