March 22


Tuesday was a day of touring. We hadn't decided whether or not to join the
group to go to the Forbidden City. We decided to wait and see when we got up if we felt like it.

After a good night's sleep (we didn't wake up until 8am) we all got up feeling good, so we made the choice to go. The bus took us to Tiananmen Square first, and since the weather was beautiful, we had a great visit.
The sun was shining and it was about 14 degrees, so it was great touring weather.

The Square was beautiful and very crowded, with scores of vendors trying to sell us kites, postcards, books about Beijing, hats (knock-off Olympic stuff), watches, and everything else.

Then we walked across the street to Forbidden City. This was a very different visit than we had in 2003. First, Stephanie loves the stroller, so she sat content throughout the walking and just enjoyed the view (and a nap). Second, the weather was cool and sunny and great for looking around.
We didn't get much chance to see the inner buildings, though, since we were with a group and I was quite disappointed with that. The first visit, I found it really interesting to see the furnishings in the inner buildings.
We did get to visit Starbucks!! Yes, Starbucks somehow convinced the Chinese government to allow them to set up shop inside Forbidden City. It's really shocking to see! It just seems so out of place.

Again today, older ladies were fascinated by our family, especially the girls. Emily spent the day telling everyone her name in both English and Cantonese. Unfortunately, no one here speaks either language, so she also spent the day getting frustrated that no one understood her.

We came home early in the afternoon and both girls went down for naps, so Danny and I lay down on the bed with Emily and the whole Fung Family of Four slept!!! It was decadent and lovely and well needed!!

The late afternoon was spent shopping in what used to be Silk Alley. For those of you that remember our last trip, this was a tiny, narrow alley full of street vendors selling cheap knock offs where the most interesting thing was how much you could bargain them down for. The Chinese government disbanded the alley, citing fire and safety hazards, and they've built this six storey structure to house them in more formal store settings. It just opened for business on March 19th, so it's still new and tidy. Frankly, it was boring. There wasn't the same crazy, rude, pushy atmosphere that there was in the alley. Things were entirely too civilized to be much fun. I did manage to get a couple of dresses for Emily. They asked for $180RMB (about $30 CDN) and I bargained them down to $35RMB (about $5.75 CDN). Also, I bought her some shoes (they asked $138RMB, I paid $55RMB). It was fun for sure. I enjoy the bargaining more than the eventual purchase!

Tonight we ventured back to where our hotel from 2003 is and found a noodle soup restaurant that we had particularly enjoyed. The soup was still just as delicious as we remembered so it was nice to have it again. Then we hopped in a cab and came back to call it a night.

The last photo in today's series is a famous "squatty potty". Note where my feet are. For those of you not familiar with the potty, I'm actually facing the wrong way if I wanted to use it. This is the first semi-clean one I've seen that I felt ok to take the photo for you. Note to group..if you're planning a trip to China, work on your quadriceps, since squatting takes some getting used to!!