We didn't expect to love Beijing so much and be totally charmed by the beauiful hearts of the Chinese people. You can never really know what a place is like or how it will affect you until you arrive somewhere, spend some time and get to know the people and place.
"To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries." Aldous Huxley
We'd been warned about the pollution, crowds, safe food issues, cold and we tend to like more rural areas so we were a bit intimidated before our arrival by just the thought of the 20 million people in Beijing, one of the world's largest cities.
Granted, we do have it easier than most since our child is quite fluent in Mandarin, we've started our stay at the gorgeous Four Seasons Beijing and have a dear local friend Winser Zhau who is helping us, but still we've been stunned by the beauty, generosity, majestic enchantment that is Beijing.
UNFORGETTABLE SIGHTS IN BEIJING
We've already seen the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, The Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, ate spectacularly scrumptious Peking duck at one of the top restaurants, visited the Hutong area and had a yummy homemade dinner at a local friends who lives in a traditional courtyard home there and then hung out with locals and expats at a unique, funky Hutong-style bar owned by a Mongolian photographer. We've watched them do tai chi in the park and we joined in playing that fun game of hitting a small ball thing with feathers with one's feet which Mozart adores ..with autum leaves and scarlet ancient temples as background.
We've met and interviewed a warm hearted, angel faced singer/songwriter/musician/writer trilingual (from North America who has lived here since 2007 and is married to a Chinese man) with an adorable baby. We'll spend more time with them and she gave us her phone number in case we ever get stuck and need a translator by phone. Another friend gave us a phone and people have picked us up or helped us with taxis and we have lots more invitations awaiting us.
We visited the largest Apples store in Asia here in Beijing, walked around a lot, Mozart gets lots of opportunities to use her Mandarin that we've been told is "perfect standard Mandarin without an accent" from a local, she was shocked and delighted to be discovered while out and about by a woman from a modeling agency who wants to give her some modeling work, has charmed quite a few babies and has been the center of attention from a crowd of photographers often with her long blond hair.
HISTORIC TIME IN BEIJING AT GOVERNMENT CHANGE
Just like the recent USA election, this is an historic time in China right now, centered in Beijing where their government is making a change that happens only once every ten years and that affects much in the city from bright red lantern decorations, to VPN internet access, to places like Tinnamin square being closed for a day.
Some how we feel a little bit a part of it, that fate brought us here at this time and it being our Dragon daughter's 12th year which is significant from a Chinese viewing point. It is the coldest winter Beijing has had in 52 years, but it's not been bad so far, mostly in the fifties and we've seen more sun than not. Mozart is really enjoying the fall cooler temperatures for a change, tickled that she can see her breath now, feeling sassy in new winter clothes and it is invigoratingly different after spending the last 9 months in tropical Asia.
THE BEST OF BEIJING IS IT'S PEOPLE
The best of Beijing, the best of any place, is it's people. Today we gave a talk about our experiences of world travel to a special group of people from Beijing ( with a Chinese translator). I was super honored that an old friend and terrific human being, Elliott Ng, ( who is now living in Shanghai) also made it a point to come.
Each person stood up and shared why they came and how they were inspired and interested in our story and I was so touched, I almost cried. This group has a special purpose of good people helping other good people and focuses on giving, expecting nothing in return. I will write more about this soon, but wanted to at least share a little now.
The problem with blogging on the move is it is more challenging, but I will keep up, the best I can with shorter posts most likely, and fill in with more later. It has been so very exciting thus far and we've met such good people, we are even contemplating/rethinking a longer stay at some point. I never would have guessed that Beijing would have impressed and pleased us so much. First impressions? Fabulous! We'll just have to wait and see if this holds up for our entire stay, but so far we've been blown away.
Do you have any questions about China? What would you most like to know?