May 10, 2012

Family in China: Thoughts and events throughout the May Holiday

We met the parents in Beijing (Trish, Peter, Joseph) where we were to spend the next 2 weeks traveling as a group of 5. A fairly new family bridging CAN and UK into one! We saw most of the main sites and attractions that Beijing and Xian had to offer.
Day 1: arrive into Beijing and walked the Wangfujingdiajie street, dinner at hotel (seafood buffet)
Day 2: Temple of Heaven, Tiantanmen Square, Forbidden city, acrobat show, street food for dinner (cold noodles and street hot pot)
Day 3: Great Wall and Ming Tomb, Dinner on the street at Dong Hua Men night market (noodles, wrap thing, beers on Wangfujingdiajie)
Day4: Hutongs area and Hou Hai Lake, Dinner at Peking Duck at Private Kitchen
Day 5: Summer Palace, Dumplings and street food (boiled spicy veggies) at Hutong area Hou Hai Lake
Day 6: Olympic Park and pearl market and flight out to Xian
Day 7: the Bell and Drum tower, Muslim Quarter and Great Mosque, run around the city wall, dinner in town muslim noodles
Day 8: Terracota Warriors and Big Goose Pagoda, Papa John's Pizza (oh yeah)
Day 9: Home to Yongchuan

As we were with parents and a group of 5 we hired a guide for day 2 and 3 to help us get around more smoothly and rented a van and driver for the day at the wall and Ming Tombs. The first 4 days were a little crazy! Lucky us, the holiday was in full effect on our day at the wall. Having a guide helped us on those busy days to get tickets quicker and find more flowing routes around town. I would recommend a private guide with a larger group that is a little more nervous to travel around on their own.

Beijing is a big city with lots of people, buildings and traffic...not my first choice in places to go but when living in China for a year I think its a must... there is a lot of classic China history around the place and I do feel like I have learned a lot more about the dynasties and the ways of the people in the past.

We stayed at a much more upper class hotels than we are used to (total special treat for us), for example: the Novotel Hotel in Beijing. We were able to walk or take the metro to most attractions, avoiding the double taxis as we were 5... Andrew and I are running the Great Wall Marathon in 1 week so I was trying to get in some small runs in between all the tours, walks, eating, etc. I managed about 30 minutes everyday (usually in the mornings... it was tough, too early for me!)

On the day of the wall Andrew and I ran a little to get a feel of the stairs that we would encounter throughout the race, it will be exciting I am sure of it. Although I did not get much official "training" in this week we did walk a ton and spent a load of time on our feet which in itself is another useful type of "training" for a long race.  I thought the wall would be my favorite part of Beijing but in the end it was my largest disappointment. The people, the shops, the reconstruction,... I just didn't feel the hype and awe I was hoping for. My favorite tourist site in Beijing was the Summer Palace. We rented a peddle boat for an hour and Andrew and I peddled our parents around Kunming Lake. It was fabulous and made me realize even more how much I miss being on the water. I am very much looking forward to this summer and fall: racing, touring, coordinating events on the SUP....

I really wanted to hike up Hua Shan mountain just outside of X'ian but due to logistics, cost, and time it just wasn't realistic this time. We were in X'ian for only 2 days but it was enough... the city itself is pretty ugly and huge but I enjoyed the peacefulness of the Great Mosque and the craziness of the Muslim Quarter. I was surprisingly interested in and intrigued by the Terracotta Warriors even though it has been 'chinese-afied' with high prices, concrete and mass reconstruction. The poor ol' lucky farmer didn't look too happy or lucky either:)
In X'ian we did stay at another plush hotel and this one had a swimming pool:) I really miss swimming once in a while. It's funny swimming definitely stretches me out and uses my muscles in different ways than other sports. I never swam that much but would try and hit the pool about once a week and I have to tell you I miss it here... So, I hit up that pool as much as I could and swam some laps and enjoyed the jacuzzi..I did run on the city wall but found it although much quieter than the street fairly boring (flat, and straight with just the corners to turn...). After being in China for 9 months I realize that no matter how much I enjoy running I do loose my enthusiasm without the excitements of the trails and mountains... the flat roads just don't tickle my fancy much anymore.

7 weeks left in China until we are back in north america. There are some aspects of our life here I will miss but I am ready to get home and paddle the oceans, lakes and rivers, climb mountains, mtn bike on trails, trail run in the forest and enjoy the fresh cleanliness of our beautiful country called CANADA! I want to return to Asia (maybe not China for the next while....) and I feel like I will as there is much more to explore on this amazing continent. I have to say: being able to read signs, play in the outdoors wherever I want, communicate with locals, and be totally independent is NOT overrated!

Only 7 weeks left but lots of stuff planned until we leave...


live, love, laugh,...DREAM!

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