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Published: April 3rd 2010
Today our new step dad of countries opened up a little...
We went to the Temple of Heaven Park... this is a non-religious temple built by the emperor in the 1400's as a place to give sacrifice and offerings to heaven... but what goes on around the Ming structures is chaotic and captivating life!! You see many active and nimble senior citizens (if you are over 70 you get into the park for free) sing and dance, play Cau (pronounced "Cow" played liked hacky-sack), and do Tai Chi Ball . While others sit on slim bannisters playing cards, making music or drawing calligraphy in the dust on the walkways in water. It's a festive wall of sound with flashing colors, intense faces, graceful movement -- in Sig's words -- it defines cacophony!
We then visited a silk factory -- and watched the process from silk worm to bed spread. Afterwards, we went to Beihai Park -- a place for imperial types to get some R & R in the 12 and 13 hundreds. The kids exchanged words of peace and friendship with an elderly man who was writing in the dust... funny how things like that just happen in
the street. Then we saw yet another pagoda -- this time with a laughing Buddha inside... but in the words of Abby "I'm getting pagoda'd out!"... so we didn't stay too long. We all posed in front of the 9 Dragon Screen -- and then took our tour on the cycle! We visited the back alleys (Hutong neighborhood) of Old China. It's a preserved spot of ancient housing surrounded by skyscrapers and modern architecture. It was exhilarating to see everyday activity compressed in the narrow, winding alleys... bikes, cars, pedestrians, vendors, animals, carts ... you name it .. it was threading it's way around us on our little bike carriages. We ended the day with our last meal in Beijing (David joked that this was the first restaurant with windows) -- and it was a great send off.
How can you tell if jade and pearls are real? Abby: If jade is real you can hold it up to the light and it's foggy. Helen: Jade makes a high pitch if "clanged" if it is really good. Jake: If you rub pearls together and a dust comes off of them - they're real.
What are favorite Chinese symbols?
Carly: "Longevity": the Turtle, Circles.. it seems like everything represents longevity! Abby: "wealth" the number 8, cabbage, the pig
A pagoda is a pagoda is a pagoda -- or is it?? Abby: After visiting numerous pagodas -- they are not all the same -- they all have different meanings or purposes -- but it got a little tiring! Kris: this one - good harvest, that one - preserving harmony... it's a lot to take in Will: They had a lot of shrines to different gods - and they each have neat roofs.
What weather has appealed to you most 95 degrees and sunny (Chau Doc) 75 degrees and sunny (Dalat) or 50 degrees, sunny and windy (Beijing)? Jake: Dalat weather -- seems like a universal answer
How did you keep warm in Beijing? Helen: I actually didn't. Carly: 16 hundred layers
Pearls, Jade, Silk... what's your favorite and why? Carly: Silk - because I'm a clothes person Judy: Jade - because it is exotic; Helen: Silk - because it's fun to see how it comes together Kris: Pearls -- my hubby even bought me a string of black ones!
We take off for home
tomorrow... but we'll be in touch along the way ... if we can get internet access!! Gotta go -- have a bunch of people waiting for me!!
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