China Day 2 – Tianeiam’ Square, Forbidden City, Beijing Zoo
Ok, I know you have all been waiting so very patiently for our day 2 adventures, you know the saying, “Life gets in the way.” But here is our recap of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City on our first full day in Beijing.
As I mentioned in the last blog, we slept pretty good, even on those hard as rock beds, because we were plum tired!! We started to stir around 6:30 am when the alarm went off. I was sooo very happy that both kids slept through the night, no problem. So we were all up and dressed and heading to breakfast down stairs by a little after 7. The breakfast was pretty much what I had expected, the hotels here in Guam have a lot of Japanese tourist and it was not surprise to see rice for breakfast. But they had a lot of stir fried veggies for breakfast too, which was different! Thankfully for the kids (and daddy and grandpa) they had bacon! They also had something like cheerios and fruit, so the kids ate pretty well. I mostly stuck to the eggs over easy, bacon and some toast. I think everyone enjoyed the breakfast, as the choices didn’t seem as “foreign” to us. Mrs. Sarah will tell you, it was her favorite meal each day!
So 8 am David met us in the lobby of the hotel. We had packed a day bag to take along which of course contained enough snacks and water for all of us, as well as a stash of clothes. (This is something I forgot to pack on the plane, which is why Aedan is wearing an oversized T-shirt in all the pictures of the first day.) Our driver stays with the van while we are out sightseeing, so we were comfortable leaving that type of stuff in the van and only taking what we needed during the tours. So this was good for us, packed for the day but only carried what we needed.
We knew what the day had in store, LOTS OF WALKING! First stop was at Tiananmen Square. This area is the largest city square in the world, in the center of Beijing which separates it from the Forbidden City. The rest of the world may mostly think of the 1989 protests which ended in hundreds of deaths. But this is the site of many other important historical events in China, and was built in 1415. Here is where you will also find around the square, the Monument to People’s Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, Memorial Hall of the Chairman Mao, and the National Museum of China. If I’m not mistaken, the long line, which must have taken hours to get through, was to see the Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao. We obvious by past this. Chinese people looked to have come from all over the country to see this memorial. It was pretty awesome to be here, surrounded by some many people. They had the national flag flying high, blowing in the wind and guarded.
Here we had our first experience with the locals taking pictures of and with our kids. Most people were really nice about it, showing their cameras and asking in Chinese. I was ok with that, a few ladies tried to hold Emma, she was NOT having that and clung to us instead. But we would just tell them to stand next to us and take a picture. (Well actually David) They really liked Sarah too, with her bright smile and blonde hair, so she had a few photos ops as well. What’s even funnier is that they would shove their children next to ours and try to get both kids to smile for the camera. Most of their kids were just likes our, looking at the foreigners like they were crazy!
The other thing we noticed here were how many large groups of people were getting on and off those large tour buses. Their tour guides would carry around a flag, and a most of the men would all wear matching hats or shirts or something. Their tours had probably 50 people following around one guide, and there were tons of them!! Their tour guides carried a small speaker hooked up to a microphone. Watching this, we were even more grateful for our own private tour guide. David really was great.
From here we made our way under the street and to the Forbidden City Gates. The Forbidden City was started in 1404 but not finished 1420. It’s surrounded by a 6 meter deep moat and a 10 meter high wall and contains 9,999 rooms inside. It was pretty crowded here; we hung on to the kids pretty tight, more for fear of losing them than them getting “snatched”. David was great about the kids the entire trip, and kept an eye out for them always. The buildings inside were amazing to see. Again, the architecture and paintings of all these buildings were so detailed, no nails. The large doors you walk through looked like they would take a dozen men to open, with large gold knobs. Inside there were many different places to go and see, from the Hall of Supreme Harmony, to the Palace of Heavenly Purity, to the Hall of Mental Cultivation, to the Imperial Garden. Some of the Halls had museums with artifacts and such. We even got to see the Royal “bedrooms” where they would sleep, or just rest. There was so much to look at and just an awesome feeling of being at one of the major wonders of the world. And of course stopped to have the kids picture taken every now and then with the excited Chinese people.
It was about a 3 hour walk from the time we got dropped off at Tiananmen Square, through the Forbidden City and out the other side. We had a short walk along the moat and then meet up with our driver and headed to the famous Wangfujing Street from some shopping. Well actually it was more just for a look see. Of course this is a must for any trip to China, you have to see the scorpions on a stick and all the other crazy bugs for tasty treats! I was concerned my crazy husband and grandpa would be daring each other to eat one, but thankfully David warned us that it wasn’t a good idea. (Thank you David!) He said it could mess your stomach up pretty bad. So we just took some pictures instead. Those things were still moving!! They were everywhere, so even tho we didn’t see anyone eat one, they must? We even saw some weird looking birds there for the tasting. After walking through this market area for a little bit, we came out into the more modern shopping area, more like what you see in Tumon Bay Guam. The clean modern buildings were covered with advertisements and such. We stopped in a children’s store just for fun, and of course all we saw were American toys like Disney and Thomas the train. Go figure! We stopped by the mall to find a clean bathroom for the kids. We entered by the cosmetic counters. Some I recognized, like Clique, but a lot must have been local brands. The mall was extremely modern, really nice stores. The kids had fun getting their pictures taken next to these statues. I did see the Nike store and of course I was tempted. But time was up and we headed back to meet the driver and headed to lunch.
After a full belly it was time for the Beijing Zoo!! Of course the kids were super excited to see the panda bears, but given that we have no access to a zoo on Guam, they loved seeing all the animals. The first few we saw were behind glass, just hanging out. Then we found a few more outside, they are so cute for such big animals. It was so nice to see how excited the kids were, they were even squealing about the roosters in the cages! The white tigers were another favorite of course. I think David even enjoyed taking the kids to the zoo and seeing all their excitement, he said most people just went to see the pandas and that was it. They had several souvenir shops and of course we had to get each of the kids a stuffed panda! They also ended up with small white tigers. Great day all around. But I have to say tho, I was very disappointed that such a large zoo with so many people paying to come to, that the animals cages had an excessive amount of trash in the enclosures. I’m not talking about a paper here or there, but piles of bottles that people must have dropped over the edge. I couldn’t understand how they could get away with this. I’m sure if PETA ever made a trip to the zoo, we would hear about it on the news. It was sad to see.
We had one other bit of excitement this day, but I think it deserves it own blog. So look for the story about the Beijing Zoo walk around the duck pond next.