What we loved about today:
The people! We enjoyed getting to meet other families from CCAI. We'll be with them for the next full week and can tell after spending a very tiring day with them that they are wonderful! Also, it was nice to have our guide, George with us. TJ thinks the world of him and was stuck to him like sticky rice the entire time. As TJ says, "He's awesome." (When George needs to gather our very large travel group, he just yells, "Sticky Rice!")
There are 19.5 million people in Beijing. The city itself is 6900 square miles. Well, as we were walking briskly, trying to keep up with our group after leaving the silk place (or was it the Hutong Village?...I forget), Ken noticed a group of Deaf Chinese men signing. He approached the group and, using international sign, asked, "Are you Deaf?" Before the men could answer, Ken noticed a man named Jeff, whom Ken had already connected with through a friend via Facebook! We will be meeting up with this group of guys tomorrow to visit. I can't wait to talk more with the local Chinese Deaf people to find out what their life is like there! The fact that we happened to run into them astounds me. There is a saying in Deaf culture: "Deaf small world." There's another saying, too: "True biz!"
Today was the first time we had "paparazzi." Many people stared and took photos. They certainly aren't shy about it, either.
The culture! We visited a silk factory (not sure if "factory" is the correct word, but it was a place where they showed us how silk is made and also sold many silk items.)
To visit Tianneman Square and walk through The Fobidden City was surreal. It's a beautiful place with so much significance to Chinese culture. I'm still amazed at how much they honor Chairman Mao, considering his entire history.
Hutong Village was my favorite stop of today. Riding the rickshaws through town gave us an excellent view of the people and places. We enjoyed walking through one family's home as well.
What we weren't so crazy about:
It was a LONG day. Certainly a "go with the flow" kind of day during some parts. We were ready to leave the silk place a good 45 minutes before we actually left. Then, the walk through the Forbidden City was very long. (But we loved it! Totally worth it.) After exiting the Forbidden City, we walked another long way to the bus. Although our hotel was only about 4 miles away, the bus ride home took an hour or more. By the time we arrived to the hotel, I was DONE with that bus! :) But hey, at least it was a soft seat and AC. The large windows also gave us a great view of the city and people.
All in all, the day was amazing. It's now 8:30pm on Friday and my entire family is fast asleep. That's exactly where I'm headed now....