|Here's Nancy and one of the dozens of watermelons that we ate this summer. The watermelon in Beijing are generally sweeter than we find in the U.S.|
One day we went for a bicycle ride through the hutongs south of our apartment.
|Here's Nancy on her 10 Yuan (about $1.50 US) bicycle, hoping that it stays in one piece.|
|What a nice day in the hutongs.|
|More scenery in and about the hutongs.|
We happened upon the residence of the wife of Sun Yat-sen (the "father" of modern China), which was converted to a museum after her death. The grounds are very peaceful and pretty. The higher-ups lived on beautiful estates while the commoners packed into dirty, narrow hutong alleyways. That seems to be the same story that was unfortunately repeated all around the world in years past.
|Nancy, rocks, and pagoda on a hill.|
|Bryan with pond. We didn't take any photos inside the house but it was very interesting, with photos and descriptions of the life of Sun Yat-sen and his wife as they brought about the birth of modern China in the early 20th century. Sun Yat-sen's wife's study has been preserved exactly as it was the last time she used it, and all clocks are stopped at the exact minute of her death. Spooky!|
This hutong is, like many, many others in Beijing, being levelled so that the streets can be widened and larger, more modern buildings put in. All of the small stores along the street are having going-out-of-business sales with merchandise piled high on the sidewalk. All of the people who lived in these hutong houses will be displaced during the road construction to relatives' homes and wherever they can find to live. After the rebuilding of new apartment complexes in place of their homes, they will have the option to buy these new, centrally located apartments for a discounted price. We are sure that in less a half a year's time, the new road will be in place and this street will have a totally new look to it.
The Chu family came to Beijing as the first stop on their two-week long tour of China. We met up with Felicia and her boyfriend Ollie for a day of sightseeing in Beijing.
|Here we are at the National museum. It was nice but unfortunately there is no English inside so we had to rely on just the photos to show us the history of the Communist party in China.|
|We stopped at a tea bar for refreshments before pressing on. We were able to get a table with swings for seats. Don't Felicia and Ollie look cute sharing a glass of "bubble tea"?|
|We made our way to the "underground city" - this is a series of tunnels and chambers built in the early 1960's as a sort of bomb shelter for Beijing residents. The tour guide claims that the tunnels and attached rooms can house the entire population of Beijing. We were not so sure - it looked a lot less extensive than it was made out to be, and it would seem logistically impossible to fit millions of people into the place. The temperature down in the tunnels was extremely nice and cool compared to the hot, muggy weather at street level.|
|Felicia holds tight to Ollie for fear of being lost down the deep, dark passageway.|
|At the end of the tour we were taken to an underground silk "factory" where silk making techniques were demonstrated and then everyone was encouraged to spend hundreds of US dollars on silk blankets. We enjoyed the show but declined the silk blankets, although we did pick up some nice silk souvenirs. Here we all are after emerging from the underground city.|
|Next stop: the bell tower. The steps up to the tower were incredibly steep. It's roughly five flights of stairs straight up to the top.|
|We made it, and were rewarded with a nice view of Beijing, some fresh air, and an opportunity to pose for a photograph in front of the bell that was at one time used to announce the time in Beijing.|
After our descent back down to ground level Felicia and Ollie were pooped so we headed over to IKEA for a nap. Just kidding. We did go to IKEA, just to poke around, but there wasn't any napping involved.
|Later in the afternoon we met up with Felicia's parents and took a walk to a nearby restaurant for dinner.|
|Here we all are enjoying the delicious food that Felicia's mom ordered.|
Some of Bryan's students from an English language class that he taught invited him to go to the Great Wall of China at Mu Tian Yu. It was a beautiful sunny day.
|Here they all are after arriving at the parking lot at Mu Tian Yu. From left to right we have Lucy, Alan, Tina, Amy, and Bryan.|
|There was a relatively short ascent up steps to the wall itself from parking lot level. We were concerned after some tired-looking tourists at the bottom wished us "good luck" on the way up, in an ominous way, but it turned out that the walk up to the top was very easy. Compared to the hiking trip we had made in Yunnan the previous month, it was a piece of cake!|
|On the way up.|
|Here's a nice view of one of the towers of the Great Wall on a beautiful mid-summer day.|
|For some reason there was a donkey in one of the towers. It wasn't doing anything but standing there quietly minding its own business, all alone.|
|Here's the group again, a bit sweaty and hot but having a great time.|
|Alan poses in the "Mao cap" that Bryan bought at the bottom to ward off the sunlight.|
|Amy earned the nickname "freak" on this trip because she definitely was one ...|
|You can pay about $5 US to descend the wall on this "slide" rather than walking down. You sit on a small platform with wheels, and a lever that lets you control the speed via a friction brake.|
Bryan took these photos on the way down - one hand on the brake, one on the camera.
|That's not a grimace of fear - that's a grin of enjoyment.|
|Here comes Amy ...|
|... and Tina ...|
|... and Alan ...|
|... and finally, after a very long wait, Lucy arrived.|
Next we drove to a lake in the area and took a boat out to an amusement park on the opposite side. Our time was limited so first we rushed to a ride which involved being hooked up to a wheel on a long cable and gliding about two hundred yards down to another part of the park.
Then we put on our life jackets for another boat ride out to the middle of the lake for paragliding.
|Here's Bryan high in the air. The ride was very short - a quick circle around the platform, two or three minutes in duration. Bryan was lucky because the driver made a mistake on the landing the first time around and had to loop again to get lined up correctly, so Bryan got two rides for the price of one. Of course, at the end he was drifting away from the platform on the landing so the attendants literally tackled him to the ground. Result: one skinned knee, otherwise, A-OK.|
The US Embassy in Beijing sponsored a July 4th picnic which we attended along with Nancy's friend Xu Yue Jin
|On the way we snapped this photo of construction cranes near our house. Beijing is really working hard to build up as quickly as possible.|
|Our first concern when we arrived at the picnic was food. Nothing could sound better to us than a few hot dogs and hamburgers on the 4th, and we made a beeline for the hot dog stand.|
|Someone sang the national anthem while the Marines stood underneath the waving US flag.|
|There were horse rides too. Here's Nancy getting to know one of the ponies.|
|Xu Yue Jin saddled up for a ride.|
|She enjoyed it so much that she decided to try a camel ride as well.|
|Nancy and Xu Yue Jin happend upon some bumper cars. The fun didn't last long though, as they were chased away by the manager who claimed that the ride is just for kids. How unfair! Many kids are bigger than the two of them.|
|Xu Yue Jin tried her hand at a football tossing game and scored very well, winning a frisbee. Nancy scored a consolation nerf football. She couldn't quite figure out how to toss the football through the hole. Here we are enjoying the spoils.|
|Nancy demonstrates her winning form.|
|Hey, what's that in the tree?|
|They tried to have a hot air balloon but it was too windy.|
|There was musical entertainment as well, with some rock bands and this folk singer.|
At the end of the day we were tired out, a bit sunburned, but happy.
When it was announced that Beijing would be the host city for the 2008 Olymic games, the city went crazy. We could see the fireworks from the balcony of our apartment.
Here Nancy once again demonstrates how much she learned at our cooking classes in Thailand. She has everything ready for some wicked Pad Thai.
Of course we can't forget the mango sticky rice (made with love)!
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