It's 7:30pm Sunday here (4:30am in Calif) and we've got 13 and a half days left. (Yes I'm counting.) The architecture here is astounding - I walk around all day poking TubaDad and saying "whoa, check that out." The color red is everywhere you look, about a third of the city is under construction (getting a facelift for the Olympics), litter is non-existant, squatty potties are a reality (so make your peace with them), fanciful curved rooftops break up the highrise skyline, there's a hypnotic parade of rickety bicycles, and the pollution and cigarette smoke are inescapable (and pretty staggering to a Californian used to her cushy non-smoking regulations).
Yesterday we grabbed some bottled water and set off on a solo adventure - yeah we thought we were all that. We walked until we came upon what looked like a tiny park on the map (Zhongshan park) and thought we'd blow through it and go on. But it was gigantic! And beautiful. Near the east end we saw hordes of schoolchildren, handpainted flags whipping in the breeze, and a fabulous youth orchestra. Apparently they were having "The opening ceremony of the 2nd grand exhibition of world childrens' drawing on flags for peace." What a mouthful, I can't believe they got it all on the banners! Children from around the world painted hundreds of gorgeous flags and sent them all to China where we happened to see them in this park. Neat.
Here's my favorite one - too bad the artwork by this pint-sized master isn't available for sale, because he could make a fortune.
Our parents arrived in Beijing last night, along with the rest of our travel group, so today was a big day o' touring. We saw Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden Palace, which were incredible. My descriptions couldn't do them justice, so you'll just have to look at a few of our pictures and then check them out yourselves someday. Oh, and make sure you're in good shape when you do. We walked our hineys off for about 4 hours - whew! The rest of our group is off on a Hutong tour right now and then an acrobat show tonight, but TubaDad and I (big rebels) hopped in a taxi and came back to the hotel to relax and enjoy our second-to-last day as a couple. Ahhh...
Oh and I might as well tell you now (before the pictures get out on the internet) that yes I smuggled bread and Skippy peanut butter into the Chinese lunch today. And it was good. And I'll probably do it again tomorrow. So there.
Click here for a slideshow with a few pictures, and now I'm off to take a quick nap. (Only 2 more days until Ro and Ree!) Oh, and if anyone's curious, yes they do have Salsa in China. Check out this self-serve taco bar from our hotel buffet last night. Funny.