Thursday, April 23, 2015

CHINA Day 3: Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City

On Day 2 we were still in Xi'an. We decided we had to take some days off from touring for the kids' sake. So we didn't plan to see anything on that day. So, we spent most of the day trying to get money. Matt tried 3 ATMs at the airport before we got any cash, and we ran out of money after a quick trip to Wal-Mart. We finally found out that ONLY the Bank of China accepts credit cards from outside of China. So, we walked with all the kids about 1km away from the Wal-Mart and about 1.5km from our hotel. So, the kids were pretty tired. After the bank, we stopped at Ying Ying Diang or something like that for lunch. We were pretty lost because the original menu was only Chinese text, but we did eventually get a menu with pictures and interesting translations, so we did get some food and ate. Then, we had to really hurry back to pack before our taxi arrived to take us to the airport. It turned out to be kind of a stressful afternoon.

On our first day in Beijing, our tour guide, Herbert, met us at our hotel and led us to our hired van. It was great. It's the only way I want to travel from now on.

Here we are in Tian'anmen Square. You will very often see Herbert in our pictures instead of Matt because Matt wanted to wield the camera.
The National Museum of China, across the street
Here's the Monument of the People's Heroes, for all the fallen soldiers, I think.
Here's Chairman Mao's Mausoleum. There were about 1000 people in line to see it.
This is the Great Hall of the People, where the equivalent of the Congress meets.
Herbert and Bobby in front of the Forbidden City
All of us in front of the Forbidden City
In Xi'an, Diana taught us how to tell the difference between the male and female lions that are in front of countless buildings in China. The male lion has a ball under his paw, which represents power.
The female lion has a baby lion under her paw. She is in charge of caring for the babies. The rest of the time we were in China the boys pointed at every lion we saw and told us whether it was male or female.
Very impressive painting on the buildings. It was very vibrant on a few of the buildings who get repainted regularly, but not all of them do.

These are Chinese zodiac animals, I think. They're on the corners of the roofs of lots of buildings in China. Only the emperor had 9 animals on his roof. Other government buildings that were important might have 6 or 7. A little restaurant might have 3.

Very cool stone carvings.

Throne room
A turtle!
A crane. Both the crane and the turtle are symbols of longevity.

Happy baby today
This was in front of the empress's house, I think. There were so many buildings in the city it was very hard to keep track.
Probably my favorite part of the trip was the Imperial Gardens. I really wish I could have sat and had lunch there, or at least spent an hour there. But there were so many people, we kind of got pushed through the place pretty quick.

These rocks were taken from the bottom of a lake
This is a game table of some kind. The boys hopped in and pretended to play "Chinese Checkers." And... a bunch of Chinese people took pictures of them.
There were hundreds of these little mosaics on the ground made of little rocks. It was hard to get a good picture of them because of all the people, but if I could spend an hour staring at the ground, that would make me very happy.
There were little pavilions around the place. This was the ceiling of one of them

Across the street from the Imperial Gardens is a public park. Matt climbed to the top to get a good picture of the whole city. When I saw the hill he was going to hike up, I decided to stay down on the base level of the garden with the kids, get a snack, some water, and feed the baby. Here are the shots he got. Totally worth it.

There was a big tulip garden up at the top, so I'm sad I missed that, but Matt took a beautiful picture.
Next, we went to the Hutongs. These are villages that have turned into a popular place for tourists to eat and go shopping.
Bobby picked out this hat. It's a boy emperor hat.
Scott trying on Scott's hat
The last thing we did was go to an awesome acrobat show. Very impressive and fun. Marie was so tired and I was worried I would miss the whole thing because she would be crying, but she was totally enthralled. It was so cute.
Here are the boys in front of the theater. We weren't allowed to take pictures. (That didn't stop the lady in front of us from recording 80% of it on her cell phone even after an usher told her to put her phone away, but hey, what are you gonna do?)

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