Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Summer Palace on hot and steamy day

July 27, 2008 - Saturday was a lounge around house and hang out at the mall day. It has been very hot and humid here. Many of you have probably seen news reports about the air quality here in Beijing. It's true this past week has been very bad and Sunday was no exception. It was like a sauna outside but we were tired of looking at the walls of the apartment and since we're in China we might as well go do some sightseeing. I decided to take Sandy and Olivia to the Summer Palace. I visited there on my trip back in January and learned that the Palace has a huge lake and lots of gardens. I was excited to see what the palace looked like in summer so off we went. We hopped in a cab right out in front of our apartment for the short 15 minute drive to the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace is rich with history and culture and is very beautiful and serene even with lots of people everywhere. Olivia rode in the back pack again and she really seems to enjoy it very much. Our first stop was at the lake shore where the lotus were in blossom.
We then made our way over to the Long Corridor where many people were just just hanging around enjoying the day. We came upon a man playing an instrument similar to a zither. We took this small video of him playing.

We walked along the corridor and made it to the entrance for Longevity Hill. At the top are great views of Beijing(on clear days) and a Buddha temple. This is what it looks like from the bottom of the hill.

Here are a few of us at the bottom near the gate.

The Lion Statues are very prominent in China and guard entrance ways everywhere. This is the male form which can be identified by the ball under his front paw and is always on the right. The female form on the left has a baby lion under her paw.

Me and Olivia getting ready to make the climb.

This is only the beginning of the climb. More stairs were to come. These were gradual comparatively. The climb is well worth it as you can see many tradional buildings and the temple. Here you can see some of the buildings. Notice the one in the center is is made of bronze.

This is the Thousand Hand Buddha.

And finally getting ready to climb back down.

When we arrived at the bootom it was time for a rest for mom and dad and time for the Olivia to be set free from her back pack. Olivia always manages to make friends every where she goes and the summer palace was no exception.

This little one was after her cookie but Olivia wasn't in the mood for sharing and pushed her hand away.

So Olivia is a big hit everywhere she goes and she has many many friends here in China. We ventured on our exploration of the Summer Palace. I wanted to see the marble boat as I didn't get to see it the last time I was here. Below are some pictures.

And we asked someone to snap our picture.

We looked around a little more and took this shot of one of the many dragons boats that cruise the lake.

It was time for lunch so we found a nice air conditioned palce to eat. The menu was good and was in english which made ordering easy. It was really getting hot so we headed home. Until next time...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Quing Hua University on Sunny Sunday

July 20, 2008 - Sunday morning we woke up and went for a walk over to Qing Hua (pronounced Ching hwah) university which is not far from our apartment. Qing Hua is the MIT of China and is one of the many very famous universities in Beijing. Many famous American technology companies have set up shop right outside the school's gates.

You may recognize a few of the big names.

Jenny our host had told me that there were beautiful lakes and gardens on the grounds of the campus so we decided to venture out and see if we could find them. We walked by a few of the many buildings which I assume housed some classrooms or maybe some labs where the next big discovery was being created.
Here is a picture of Sandy in front of an important looking building...

This is the original front gate which was deep inside the current campus. Apparently, families will visit the school with their high school age children to inspire them to study hard so that they can pass the entrance exam and study here. Hence all the people taking pictures in front of the front gate.

Just beyond the front gate we found the lakes and gardens. Jenny was right they were beautiful and full of many surprises. We found a hidden pagoda on hill that afforded us a great view of the surrounding area.

Olivia and I were able to climb to the top and get a good look around.


Sandy wanted to take look so up she went...

We walked around some more and found some other surprises like the statue of Confucius.

We snapped a picture of this little boy doing his best impression.

And then we saw this cute little girl walking around a monument.

Again Olivia makes friends everywhere she goes. She is mei mei (translated little sister) to every kid older than her. Olivia is like a movie star here in China as everyone wants to take her picture. So we decided that we would get in on the action too.

So after the photo shoot we found a pen full of peacocks which delighted Olivia. She has never seen such a bird and was very excited to see them. That was until she stuck her finger thru the fence and they began squawking which scared her and made her cry. Everyone around had a good laugh at her expense.

By this time thunder was rumbling and it was looking like rain coming our way so we decided to head back to our apartment. Along the way we saw a small home with a merchandise stand. The lady was sleeping in the heat of the afternoon.

We cam upon a courtyard that was situated on the lake shore.

Here is Sandy with her UV blocking sun umbrella looking very cool.

This is the same pagoda that we climbed earlier...

A picture of the lake shore...

And lastly yet another beautiful scenic setting...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

First we take WuDaoKou then we take Tiananmen Square

July 19, 2008 - This was our first weekend alone here in Beijing. What to do. I decided that we should try to venture out and see if we could find our way to Tiananmen Square. It takes 2 subway lines to get there. The line 13 station is a 3 minute walk for our apartment and runs to connect with the line 2 which is also called the circle line. So off we went not really sure if we were going to make it or not. We transfered to line 2 simple enough and got off the Qianmen stop this put us at the far end of Tiananmen Square near the old city gates and the back side of Mao's tomb.

Olivia rode comfortably on my back on a kelty kids carrier. This has proven to be indispensible as bringing a stroller anywhere is challenging. Lots of stairs and not too much handicap accessibility. Although alot of effort is being made to improve this with the paralympics being hosted in Beijing after the regular Olympics.
I had been here back in January when I first visited China. What a difference the weather made. We did arrive early (I think around 9:30 AM) so as to beat the mid day heat and sun. There was lots of people around. Many people were lined up to view Mao as his tomb is only open to visitors on Saturdays and Wenesdays. We did not choose to go in at this time but we plan to do so in the future. This is picture of Sandy by the Old city gate. Being back in Tiananmen Square in the summer was nice. There were lot and lots of people around and I noticed that we were getting alot of attention or I should say that Olivia was getting alot of attention from the Chinese. They all love her and think that she is beautiful. Those who can speak English tell us all the time. I guy was following us around taking our picture. We made a stop at the front side of Mao's tomb and i took Olivia down off my back to rest for a moment and before you know it we were swamped by Chinese people wanting to take their picture with Olivia, Sandy and me.
This was the start of a whole new experience. Now I know what it must feel like to be a star being paparazied. Once we allowed 1 person I swear to you there must have been 20 people who wanted a picture with us.

It was becomming a scene and a police officer was giving us the stink eye so I put Olivia back on my back and off we went. This is Sandy in front of the People's Congress building. It's the equivilent of our Capitol building in the USA.

We made our way up to the front end of the square to the national flag so we could get our picture taken with the most famous Chinese man. Mao himself.

While we were up in the front of the square we were once again ganged up on by many tourists wanting to take a picture of the baby. This was getting a little annoying at this point but we grinned and beared it.

I decided why not turn the camera on to them so we asked the group to get together for us so we could get their picture. They were more than happy to do so and as you can see they continued to take pictures of us.

So off we went as it was getting a little hot and we were getting hungry for lunch so we dicided to head back to the subway. Along the way Sandy met an old friend.

We took a shot of the Olympic count down clock. 20 days to go!

We made it back to where we started and took a few more pictures.

We managed to back track our way on the subway and made it safely back to our place in WuDaokou. a Good start to many more adventures!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Olivia's big day at the playground

Over the week end we went to the palyground across from our apartment building. Olivia had a great time and made some new friends. She also reached a new milestone by climbing stairs upright. Below are pictures and video of day's events.