1/29/10: Beijing, China
We usually try to hit all of the big sights in each of the cities we visit, but a lot of the time those experiences will blur into a kind of soupy mix in my memory and only a few small things will end up standing out. Take today for example.
Attraction: Tiananmen Square
Will remember: Accidentally bought tickets to go up on the Tiananmen Gate, thinking it was an entrance fee into something else. Not worth the 30 yuan.
Attraction: Forbidden City
Will remember: In the Hall of Central Harmony, there is a large Chinese inscription reading “Yun Zhi Jue Zhong.” On the English plaque in front of the hall, the translation given for the inscription is “The Way of Heaven is profound and mysterious and the way of mankind is difficult. Only if we make a precise and unified plan and follow the doctrine of the mean, can we rule the country well.”
Attraction: Shopping at Silk Street
Will remember: An impulse purchase of ten sets of “jade” chopsticks that came with – wait for it! Little “jade” turtle chopstick rests! “When are you ever going to use these?” Kevin asked. “For Chinese takeout!” I said.
Attractions: Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube
Will remember: Not too much. It was freezing.
But the best part of today was when my older cousin, Zhou Ting (her last name is Zhou, as her dad is my mom’s brother, stay with me here) and her boyfriend (henceforth referred to as ZTBF) came over to say goodbye to us and brought Kevin a Chinese chess set as a goodbye present. The six of us plopped down for a lesson and to play the inaugural game. The sides? Kevin, my aunt, Zhou Ting, ZTBF and me versus my uncle. Kevin was nominally in charge, but the other four of us kept shouting instructions to him – “Don’t move that there! Don’t you see his cannon?” and my aunt kept moving things back whenever Kevin made a poor decision. “Let’s rewind – rewind!” she’d say, putting two of Kevin’s pieces that my uncle had just captured back on the board, moving everything back two steps. My uncle would just laugh and wait for Kevin to make a new play.
In the end, Kevin won that first game.
Picture of the Day: The only uncrowded subway line in Beijing is the one to the Olympic Green.