Sunday, January 9, 2011

Copied from Friday, December 3, 2010 Travel Blog

Our Wednesday adventure – the subway system on our own!

Brad had to work again on Wednesday and so did Jieying, so we decided to get adventurous and try the Beijing subway on our own.  Our goal was the Summer Palace, which is known around the world for its gardens.
I have been in the New York subway system and the Beijing one isn’t anything like it – the Beijing one is clean.  There are a lot of words in English and it isn’t too hard to figure out how to get around – especially when your sister-n-law explains it to you before hand :)  We weren’t nervous about going on it at all (well, maybe a little – but not too much).
We had looked up directions to the Summer Palace beforehand (and had gotten directions from Jieying) and had written them down.  There were two exits we could take to get to it, and we got off at the first one and wandered aimlessly up and down the street looking for the Summer Palace - to no avail.  Our directions said to go west, but we didn’t know which way west was or even how far to go if we did.  I’m certain we looked very lost to everyone that was staring at the strange foreigners walking up and down the street :)
After a bit we decided to get back on the subway and go up to the next stop.  When we got off the subway we saw signs for the Summer Palace but couldn’t figure out which way it was or even if it was on the right or left side of the street.  Again, we wandered… Finally, a taxi driver took pity on us and walked over to ask if he could help.  Kevin said, “Summer Palace” and the taxi driver pointed us in the direction we had not yet wandered...  Going up to the entrance a lady spoke English to us and kept asking if we needed a tour guide and we said no.  We wanted to walk around by ourselves. 
Just inside the Summer Palace - it was a COLD day!
We paid for our tickets and went into the Palace – I am sure it is very beautiful in the spring, summer and fall months.  In the winter, it is still very nice to visit and to walk around – we thought the day was going to be very nice and warm but instead it was very cold and we could see our breath in the air.  Our fingers and noses were cold.
After we walked for awhile we came to a place where a lady was gesturing for us to come in and eat a meal in their restaurant.  We hadn’t had breakfast or lunch yet besides some snacks and we saw Kung Pao chicken on the menu so we decided to give it a shot.
Still sore from the Wall, we did a lot more walking today - but I still enjoyed everything as I limped along saying, "slow down" and "wait for me!"
It was a little warmer inside the restaurant, at least we were out of the wind.  One thing we have noticed is that in all of the restaurants we have eaten in there has always been an upstairs, which is where we ate.  At this restaurant we were the only ones eating b/c it was between meals – about 2:30.  The waitress handed Kevin the menu and he pointed to the Kung Pao chicken.  After much gesturing, we figured out they didn’t have any of it for us to eat!  Bummer, it was why we came in.  Lucky for us, there was another item on the menu also called Kung Pao chicken (but it didn’t look like it), so we ordered that, cucumbers in a sauce, rice, and Dragon buns!
The Dragon buns (rolls stuffed with meat), cucumbers and rice were all very good.  We never did figure out what was in the Kung Pao chicken though.  Mushrooms was one thing but the other items were completely foreign to us, and I don’t think I want to know what it was either :)
I really wanted to walk on the marble boat!
After we ate we walked down to the marble boat, which was pretty neat.   
There were some traditional style buildings inside the Summer Palace that we were able to take pictures of so I am glad that we went.  If we ever get back to China, I would love to visit the Summer Palace again and spend many hours walking around the grounds.
Back on the subway, we found our way to our hotel.  We called Jieying and she met us at our hotel, bringing some of our laundry with her.  She had offered to wash some clothes at her place for us the day before and we quickly took her up on it.  Most people in Beijing only have a washing machine and then they hang their clothes up on a line to dry.  It takes about a day for them to dry.
View through the trees.
With Jieying, we hopped back on the subway and went to see where Brad works.  He has a nice office and it was good to see where he spent his workdays.  Unfortunately, He still had some things to finish up so we headed to one of the restaurants we had eaten at before and just had him meet us later.
When you walk in the restaurant there is a hand-washing station so you can clean your hands.  We did this and then went up the stairs to a private room where we had our own table – big enough for all of us to sit.  It was a round table with the round carousel in the middle where they set the tea and food.  We are all getting pretty good with our chopsticks!  It makes for an interesting meal when everyone is using their chopsticks to take from the dishes in the middle.  Sometimes you forget to put it on your plate first and instead you just take it right from the main dish and pop it in your mouth!  It may get a little embarrassing when we are back in the states and eating right out of the main dishes :)   The food was excellent though – Tyler wanted a second dish of snow pea leaves.  I think he ate the whole dish himself.  We also got seconds of a green bean dish that was very good – not healthy for you at all b/c of the way it was cooked but very good none-the-less!
We were stuffed by the time we were done eating.  It had been a long day and we had to get back to the hotel in order to pack – the next day we were going to get Lyric!
Just a pretty view of water and a bridge.
It was after 9:00 when we got to the hotel.  I had the kids shower real quick so they could get to sleep and I packed up the clothes.  Kevin has been fighting off a cold or something and fell asleep on the bed.  I woke him up so he could set the alarm for 6:15 am.  We were meeting Brad in the lobby at 7:00 am so we could get to the airport.  I got as much as I could packed, took a shower and hit the sack myself by about 12:30.
And that was the end of our Wednesday - tomorrow, we fly to Lyric in Guiyang!
I think, when it is warmer, you can pay to go down to this little canal.  I believe there are shops down there and that you can go for a ride on the boats - but I'm not positive.  That would have been a lot of fun!


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