This was our 1st lesson in Chinese culture, they walk FAST. And they don't check behind them to make sure you are keeping up. And the Beijing airport going to what seemed to be parking was HUGE. This was the second lesson - parking in China is a relative term. There aren't really designated spots that I could tell. Heck, traffic lanes in China are a relative term. Lesson three - the drivers will share lanes, turn together, use the horn liberally, occasionally brush side mirrors with the car, but they are ridiculously talented drivers. Also, they don't get mad. They honk louder but remain completely calm. We had an enormous amount of fun riding around Beijing (and later Wuhan).
The next morning we went on a whirlwind tour with two other families we knew. It started with a
temple just north of the Forbidden City. I really loved it and would have liked to stay there longer. There were seniors doing water painting and grannies square dancing. But we had to get to the Great Wall! We went to the section that has the open gondolas going up and the toboggan going down. This was my favorite stop. We had such a fun time, but it wore me out! Husband and Child #1 made it past the tallest tower, but Child #2 and I were gasping at the second to last. So close but Child #2 refused and sat down. And I did get him one tower further than he said he would go... I cannot describe the view. It was breathtaking. We got a rare sunny and slightly less smoggy day. We had an amazing lunch at the restaurant just down the hill. I don't know what all the foods were, but it was the best food we had during our whole trip. Next we all went to the Summer Palace. I had really been looking forward to this, but it was crazy crowded. Lesson 4 - get used to walking/standing/sitting closely to people. I cannot describe how crowded it was. I kept hold of my teenage boys because we were walking through swarms of people - all of them
Chinese and many staring at us. But we were moving so fast they couldn't stare for long (see lesson 1). I think the Summer Palace was beautiful, at least what little I saw of it. Between the people and fast walking, I really only remember the pretty lake and marble boat and of course, the long walkway. I took photos of them, so I could look better at them later (that statement seems so sad). We finished around six and ate food I had brought with us. Lesson 5 - bringing food in your suitcase is a really good
idea. We were way too tired to find dinner and it was so nice to have tuna sandwiches and oatmeal. I think we found some cup ramen somewhere too.
On Sunday morning, we were picked up by David's niece and taken to the Beijing train station. It was amazing and I loved every minute of the train journey. The station was huge! But it was all well labeled. His niece walked up to our gate which was much appreciated because we were one of the only western families there and nobody spoke English. I had a fun time finding out how much the bananas cost (10 yuan for a bunch of six) and this seemed like a great bargain compared to fast food.
The ladies were so nice and laughing as they first tried showing me on their fingers then with the calculator. Turns out calculators are VERY common for bartering or showing prices when you don't speak the same language. Go figure. (see what I did there ;) When it came time to give our tickets and go through the gate, we were rocks in the stream. Seriously, a stream of people moving quickly and we were bumbling with our suitcases and tickets. A kind man that had kind of talked with us earlier soon disappeared around the corner with his elderly mother. They all had suitcases and tickets too, but they all moved way faster, even the seniors. Nothing like a trip to China to make you realize how slow and overweight you are. Which is odd because I'm not really slow or overweight. Sidenote, there aren't escalators going down to the train, but there is a whole messload of stairs, so you better know how you are getting your suitcase (or your son and his suitcase) down the stairs. Quickly. A very kind man helped my son. He didn't even look at us really, just picked up his suitcase and carried to the bottom of the stairs. Ah the train! We took the bullet train to Wuhan and sat in firs