A family of 5, Super Mom, USMC Dad, & three boys ages 5, 7, & 9. This is glimpse into the daily life of raising 3 American boys while living in Bangkok, Thailand.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Beijing, China - April 19-22, 2014

Beijing, China -
     After our week in Seoul, Korea we boarded a plane and headed to Beijing, China.  18 months ago, I never would have imagined that I would be in China, but there I was.  Our 2 hour flight was uneventful.  After gathering our luggage we headed to the hotel.  
     I must admit that in my mind China would be dirty and very polluted.  I have seen photos of what China does look like on many days and heard stories from friends who visited who said that they were covered in dirt and pollution by the end of their sight-seeing days.   I imagined the city would be similar to Bangkok where everything is ancient looking and everything is littered with trash and roads that are desperate need of repair.  I imagined tons of motorcycles like in Bangkok and crazy traffic.   What I found when we got to Beijing (and I have heard this is NOT the norm), was blue skies.  It was clean and pretty, there was traffic but nothing to crazy, at least where we were.  There were motorcycles but not anything like Bangkok.  
    So my husband was in Beijing for work a few weeks before we were there and he got a recommendation for a hotel.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express.  We checked in and headed to our room.  When we walked in the room was tiny with one full size bed.  It was a cute room though but no way all 5 of us would be able to sleep in the room.  My husband was able to speak with the front desk who very kindly provided us with a different room with two beds. PHEW-  now we will all be able to sleep soundly and comfortably..... We head to our new room, open the door and there are two beds, but they are TWIN size beds.  So now we have 2 twin size beds in the exact same size tiny room and 5 people to sleep.  Ugh... called downstairs again, this is the only two bed option.  Oh well, we will manage.   
    By the time we get settled into our room it was past dinner time and everyone was hungry.  We decided to go walk around the neighborhood to find food.  This did not turn out to be a very fun time.  Arcadian was not feeling well and it was COLD outside.  He was crying uncontrollably for part of the walk complaining that his nose was hurting.   When I was about to give up on finding food, we found a McDonald's.  The kids ate there and everyone ended up happy.  We walked back to the hotel, I left the boys and went to find some food for the husband and I.  I was really hoping to eat some delicious Chinese food but didn't see anything in the area that looked appealing.  I ended up getting a pizza from a Pizza Hut.  Oh well....
    When I got back to the hotel with the pizza I met a worker at my room door who handed me two small magnifying glasses.  OK...  Walk inside and give them to the husband.  He said he called down to the front desk to get an extra blanket so that he could make a bed on the floor.  A bit of a problem with translation I think....  Sleeping arrangements the first night was me and fever ridden Arcadian in one bed, Justice and Brosnan in the other, and Justice (dad) on the floor.  

DAY 2:  Great Wall of China & Summer Palace

So, not only could I never imagine myself being in China, I never imagined myself at the Great Wall of China.   We drove about 90 minutes outside of Beijing to the wall.  Nothing to exciting about the drive.  When we got there it was immediate chaos with all of the people and trying to figure out what we needed.  Unfortunately I can't remember the exact name of the location of the wall that we went to but there were several options for getting to the wall and coming down.  We choose to take a Cable Car to the top and Toboggan down.  We did not know that this option would also entail a LONG walk along the wall which was awesome but very tiring.  They just didn't make stairs the same as they do now :)
This was the area where you bought tickets and souvenirs from.

Picture of my boys before getting on the Cable Car to go up to the wall. 

The Cable Cars we rode on to the Wall. 

Circle of Life- We watched this caterpillar and centipede for a bit. It was a bit hard to tell who was winning.

Arcadian looking amazed! (Justice in the background)

There it is!  The Great Wall of China. Amazing.

Justice gazing at the wall. 

The logistics/time/energy that went into building this wall is absolutely incredible. 

Arcadian, Brosnan, and Justice

My 4 boys.

After we left the Great Wall, we headed to Summer Palace. It is a place filled with beautiful buildings and gorgeous landscape.  

This photo is a picture at the entrance to the Summer Palace. 

Our boys were superstars in China.  By the end of the day we were literally turning away requests from Chinese people to have their photo taken with the kids.  China imposes (or did in recent history), hefty fines for those families that have more then one child.  If their first child is a girl then they could apply for the right to a second child.  Because of this law having boys is a very good thing.   My husband got many thumbs up from passerby when they would see our 3 boys walking along.  Our children were not as thrilled with their paparazzi.

A mini village at Summer Palace. 

Picture of the craftsmanship on the stairways. 

Lake at Summer Palace
This building was covered in little figures.

A closer picture of the figures
An even closer look.  

I enjoyed taking photos of all the details on the buildings and walkways. 

My 3 cuties...

 I have heard (and seen photos) of the HORRIBLE smog that usually encompasses Beijing.  We were very fortunate that all of the days that we were there there were blue skies and not much smog.  The weather was also beautiful.  It was a great escape from the hot and humid weather here in Thailand. 

The colors and designs are excellent. 

Not sure what this is, but it was inside a boarded up room in a pagoda sitting by itself.  There were lots of different buildings like this that I am sure served some purpose in history. 

Leaving Summer Palace.
After we got back to our hotel we tried a second attempt at getting an extra blanket.  We called the front desk and a few minutes later we had a knock on our door with an extra plate.  Nope, not needing a plate.  I brought the delivery person into the room, showed her a blanket and about 15 minutes later we had another knock on our door with an actual blanket.  This made the person who was sleeping on the floor that night just a bit more comfortable.

Day 3 : Temple of Heaven & Tienanmen Square

The next day we ventured out to Temple of Heaven.  Built in 1406-1420 for religious ceremonies to pray to the heavens for good harvest, or at least that is what the Internet tells me :)

This is a photo of the Long Corridor.  It is really long and beautifully painted.  I should do a bit more research on what all this stuff means, but what I just learned on Wikipedia is that there are 4 "Long Corridor's" each representing a season (Spring, Summer, Winter, & Fall)
The boys in front of a giant door.

The family getting dressed for a "royal" photo shoot. 

It was hard to see inside some of the buildings but the best that I could tell on this, there were statues of pigs or cows or something that were each facing their own alters of sort.  

Entering the Circular Mound Altar

Center of the Circular mound altar

Our Sad faces because Forbidden City was closed on Mondays, so we didn't get to go inside. 

Instead of going into Forbidden City, we went to a park behind that I believe was called Prospect Hill.   It is a man-made hill from the dirt that was removed while building Forbidden City moats.

Forbidden City from the hill

All the people taking photos of Forbidden City

Moat around Forbidden City

Tienanmen Square

Our last evening in Beijing we saw the changing of the guards at Tienanmen Square.  It was super very crowded and hard to see what was going on, but still a good experience.

Day 4: Headed back to Bangkok
     We checked out of our hotel room and headed to the airport for a few hours of uneventful flying.  Our trip to S. Korea and Beijing was fun but it was great to be home.   All three of the kids were fighting fevers and stomach aches at some point during our time in China.  There were a few moments where I felt bad about dragging them out of the hotel but since there were no rapid exiting of bodily fluids we forced them on our outings.  I kept telling them and myself that it was highly possible that we never come back to this country and do these things again so we had to all suck it up and get it done!  The kids were loaded on Tylenol most of the time and they made it through with minimal complaining for the most part.

It is now 3 months after our trip to China and I know that at least it left an impression on Arcadian.  He talks about being at the Great Wall more then the other two.  I can only hope that some of what they get to experience during our 3 years in Asia will stick with them forever.