We just got back from a whirlwind weekend in
Before I start up with pictures and the whole story of our weekend, I have to officially set the record straight about something that has been haunting us since we arrived in
We stayed at the same ridiculously expensive hotel as before, since the kids seem to think there is nowhere better to stay and frankly, Dave and I are a little attached to those Frenchie breakfasts and evening snacks. The kids swam everyday, I lounged in an armchair on the 17th floor, overlooking
Yes, Harry Potter is a big deal here, too. Samuel came away from the Beijing Foreign Language Bookstore with another Tintin collection, Grace got a book of pony stories, and I got Bleak House by Dickens (it should last quite a while, right?). And what did Dave get? A gigantic coffee mug from Starbucks across the street.
This is the baozi restaurant near the Lama Temple. Baozi are steamed buns filled with vegetables, eggs, or meat--and sometimes all three together.
Inside the Lama Temple complex. You can't burn incense inside any of the rooms where the buddhas are, so people light their incense from huge tubs of fire and make their offerings outside. As you can see, even in the temple, cell phones are popular.
One of the many gift shops at the Lama Temple. Commerce and consumption are alive and well even at the most renowned Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet.
The key broke off in the lock on one of our rented bikes--many people came to our rescue but ultimately it was the lady in blue on the right who took us and the bike to a nearby hutong where the bike repair guy cut the lock off and put a brand new one on for us. Everyone was really nice and I even had a "conversation" with the lady in my pathetic Chinese.
On the corner of San Li Tun. No, we didn't do any of the cosmopolitan hanging out that this neighborhood is known for, but we did check it out--the construction going on in this area of town is just phenomenal.
This is the view from the 17th floor of the Novotel Hotel. Just beyond the cranes in the background you can see the low red roofs of the Forbidden City.
At the Summer Palace, in front of Kunming Lake. The Empress Dowager Cixi built up and renovated what was traditional a summer retreat for the emperors.
This is taken behind the big building you can see in the background of the picture just above. There are rocks and tunnels everywhere--the kids climbed and jumped and explored and pretty much didn't want to leave.
The marble boat that Empress Cixi built using funds that were earmarked for building up the Chinese navy in the late 19th century.