Day 2 – Touring Beijing

Today started out bright and early at 4 something thanks to jet lag.

Once we got our day started we {Adam, our friend (I’ll call her Mac) and I} hopped in the car with our driver to head down town.  If I understand this correctly Beijing has 6+ outer rings {like our 285} and we are staying between 5 and 6.  Anyways, our plan was to start off at the Hutong {near the Qianhai lake and make our way to the Bell tower and the Drum tower.  But once we got there we realized that they had started the ‘redevelopment process’ {completely wiping out the old buildings and building new ones} had already started.  So we choose to walk around the Qianhai lake and take in the sights.  We saw several men fishing with the longest fishing poles I have ever seen, people riding bikes, grandparents out with their grandchild and many rickshaws.  I was also able to get some amazing pictures.

After walking far enough we turned back and headed for the Bell and Drum towers.  Crossing the streets here is an adventure and as long as we stay with Mac we are fine.  We made it safely across the street to the Drum tower.  After buying tickets we walked up about 10 or so stairs to enter the tower and head to the top.  Once we entered the door we realized that there were about 100 stairs and the were going straight up! We bravely took the stairs and made it to the top.  And I must say those stairs were tall, Adam even commented that there was no way to take 2 at a time.  The Drum tower was really cool.  The building is really old, it had really neat architecture and you could see a lot from all the way up there.  The drum tower used to be the official time keeper of China and it was cool to see.  We then made it down the really steep stairs and headed over to the Bell Tower.  Once we entered the door here we too saw the 100 very steep steps that we got to climb to the top.  The Bell tower is also really old and it was used to announce special occasions {and I am sure other things, I just can’t remember right now}.  The view was also nice from up there and we were glad that we made the trek up the stairs.

Next we headed to the Jingshan Park.  Here we got to climb to the top of the hill {the hill was made from the dirt that was dug out of the moat for the forbidden city} and overlook the Forbidden City.  Mac said that this was a better view of the forbidden city {and she was right}.  We made it to the top where there was a Buddhist temple, incredible ancient architecture and wonderful views of the Forbidden City {and other parts of Beijing as well}.  We got some pictures, saw our friends we met on the plane from Seoul to Beijing and headed back down.  We strolled through the gardens and enjoyed the beautiful peonies that were in bloom {one of my favorite flowers} and enjoyed watching people.  There were old people dancing, an older man playing a flute and people enjoying the park.  There were also some pretty funny signage there too {and of course Adam posed by them for your viewing pleasure}.

We headed back to the street to meet out driver and head to lunch.  Mac took us over to the Pearl Market to meet up with our friend Toby (Mac’s husband) and their kids.  We ate lunch at the Brown Door and although we thought it was super yummy, our friends said that they were disappointed and that dinner would be much better.  We had some kind of eggplant, chicken and peanuts, some starch noodles, spicy green beans and rice.

After lunch we headed to the Pearl Market to do some shopping {mostly looking} and walking around.  The Pearl Market is an inside market with different vendors {mostly with the same stuff} and people working really hard to sell you their stuff.  But before we could start our shopping trip, the girls needed to head for a bathroom break.  So, we headed into the restrooms to find there was no toilet paper {I brought some from home, but it was in my other bag}.  I remembered that I had some tissues and the girls were thankful for that.  Our friend, Mac, reminded me that these would be the only restrooms for a while and I should try and go.  My hesitancy was these were not western pottys, but the famous ‘squatty potty’. I decided to be brave and tackled the squatty  potty  our first day here in Beijing 🙂

Shopping in the market is funny.  Everyone wants you to buy their stuff, they use calculators to tell you their ‘best price’ and then if you walk away suddenly their ‘best price’ goes down.  The good thing about that is we didn’t really ‘need’ anything and were just looking, so when we saw something and they would give us a good price we would buy it.  Our treasures today from the market include 2 pairs of sunglasses {we both forgot to bring ours from home} a pool bag that I spent $5 for, Samuel a Happy Sheep stuffed animal {a famous cartoon here in China} and Adam scored a nice fedora for a whopping $1.50.

After we had shopped until we were ready to drop we headed over to the outside food market.  Driving here in China is an adventure and I am so glad that Adam or I do not have to drive here.  Both of our friends Toby {the husband of Mac} and Mac {Toby’s wife} are excellent drivers! I thought for sure a lady was about to get killed in the intersection today, but she made it out {imagine a real live game of Frogger}.  The outside market is in the “Times Square” of Beijing.  It felt very much like we were in NYC.  We saw some very interesting foods at the outside food market and most of them were on a stick.  Your options included scorpions on a stick, silk worms on a stick, locus on a stick, candied fruit on a stick, snake on a stick and lastly starfish on a stick.  So interesting to see what people were eating.

After we were done seeing the crazy foods we headed back to our car to head towards dinner.  We walked passed the 3 story Apple store and Adam wanted to stop in and check it out.  They had a crazy spiral glass staircase in the middle of the store connecting all the floors.  It was HUGE.

We made our way towards dinner, drove by the oldest church in China, saw 2 men on a scooter with 3 chocolate poodles {they posed for a picture while they were driving down the road}.  We made it to dinner {after some creative parking} and I was super excited for dinner.  We were eating food from the Xinjian province {I believe} and it was yummy.  Compared to lunch, dinner was amazing! I am going to miss all the amazing yummy Chinese food once we head back to the states.

After dinner we headed back home, FaceTimed with the kids and are ready for bed after a full, but Amazing day in Beijing.

Tomorrow we head to the Great Wall and a few other places and then on Saturday we will take the train to Taiyuan {Samuel’s province}.

Enjoy a few pictures from todays adventure 🙂

Until Tomorrow!

{Hugs} from Beijing