Reporting from Jinqiao
10.01.2013 - 13.01.2013 -10 °C
Mum and Dad have been visiting since Christmas, and very kindly and ably looked after our little darlings while last week we went to Harbin. And as part of their ticket to China received a 'free' domestic flight and we had suggested Beijing as somewhere that after 9 trips to China they should really consider visiting. Aside from which Jie Jie had told me that she needed to climb the Great Wall of China, as she clearly doesn't remember her first visit when she was 2 years old. Needless to say Didi didn't remember visiting it either as a 10 week old baby. So we decided to go along too as an opportunity to visit the Great Wall. But Mike was in Bangkok for a work thing, and would fly in to Beijing on Saturday morning ready to go straight up to Mutianyu.
I decided to make life easy for us in Beijing, as without Mike for most of it, and managing both my small children and my 'old' parents (as described by a number of Chinese) by hiring a car and driver for the whole trip. Unfortunately, I also booked us into a Hutong style accommodation as they had been keen to give authentic Chinese life a go after our great success in accommodation in Yangshuo last April. The owner had assured me he would make everything as comfortable as possible for my parents, and then checked them into a room where the shower was literally above the toilet. There was no way to not get water all over the bathroom, completely inappropriate for 'old people'. I had booked the family room for us, yet it was quite kid unfriendly, well Didi managed to burn his hand (quite mildly) on the heater, but our bathroom did have a bath and shower! So after one night we checked out, and into the super plush Peninsula.
Our first full day in Beijing was a full one. After breakfast, packing up and checking out, we headed to Tiananmen Square. We walked around the enormous square, marvelling at its size and for Mum and Dad realising just how cold -10 degrees really is. I felt quite at ease, as I had got used to super low temperatures the week before in Harbin! We saw the queue to visit Mao's Mausoleum, and decided that in the cold we were really better off keeping on moving around.
After Tiananmen Square, we headed across the road and through the Gate of Heavenly Peace (the one with the massive portrait of Chairman Mao) and up to the Forbidden City. While we were walking up there, I got a phone call from Mike (who was at an International Job Fair in Bangkok) telling me that he'd been offered a job... In Düsseldorf, so suddenly I was about to visit the Forbidden City, but thinking about a possible move to Germany! All very exciting and conflicting... thinking about Black Forest cakes, castles and sausages while marvelling over Ming Bridges, decorated wood panels and clocks all at the same time. Speaking of clocks, in the Forbidden City, for a small extra fee there is an amazing collection of clocks and watches, mostly made in China over the last 300 years, but also a number of fine specimens from Europe. Some were very elaborate, and exquisitely decorated with jade, gilted gold, pearls and other precious gems.
But our time in the cold was starting to take it's toll, so from there we called our driver and decided to go and check into our new hotel. Although it was only mid-afternoon, we told him to finish up for the day, because the next day was going to be a super early start...