So, Beijing in late November was perhaps an overambitious endeavor with small children. Yes, we knew it was going to be cold, but the timing worked out and we really didn't want any more time to pass without having set foot in China. The Saturday night before we left, Ian had a fever. He was sluggish on Sunday, but Monday morning when we left, his fever was gone. I, however, had a slight tickle in the back of my throat that I suspected was about to turn into a cold.
Our family was traveling with another couple. We were all greeted by the guide at the airport and taken to our hotels. It was sunny and much warmer than I expected. Our friends got settled in and then joined us at our hotel. We went walking to find lunch and decided on a noodle place not too far from the hotel. Eva promptly took off her socks and shoes. It is her current obsession. She refused to put them back on. After putting them back on about 20 times, we gave up and let her run around the restaurant bare foot.
After lunch we walked around and browsed in some shops. Eva took her shoes and socks off again. In Korea, hundreds of halmonis (grandmothers) would have dived rolled over to us to put them back on, but in China, we only got a few confused looks. When Curt was by himself with Eva, he was approached, but when I was there, no one said anything. Hey, I wanted her to wear her shoes as well, but after wrestling with her in the airport, on the streets of Beijing and at the restaurant, I realized I was not going to win this one.
By that night, I was sick. Curt and Ian started to cough as well. I had weakness, aches and a hacking cough. After a restless night, we pulled ourselves together to go see the Great Wall. Ian and I were cooked. We made it in front of the entrance to get our picture taken, but had to immediately retreat to the bus. Ian was crying just getting his picture taken. Curt put Eva in the baby carrier and hiked up with our friends. Ian and I huddled on the bus and felt like we were dying.
We stopped for lunch on the way back to the hotel. They made my boiled Coke with ginger to drink. I couldn't eat anything, but the spread looked great. They stopped at a pharmacy to pick up some medicine. The ingredients involved earthworms and dried human placenta so Curt skipped it. I am still breastfeeding and he asked if it was safe for breastfeeding and they said no. They finally gave him something else, but I didn't take it. Our friends continued on the tour and we crashed at the hotel.
By the time we got to the hotel, Curt was going down. We lay on the bed in agony while Eva skipped around the room and found things to destroy. Between the breastfeeding, nose-picking and her refusal to wear shoes, she seems to have built up quite and immune system.
The next day, we gathered our strength for the second day of tours. The guide told us to leave the stroller on the bus, but Ian was in no shape to walk, so we insisted on bringing it. I am so glad we did! There was so much walking in the freezing cold! Ian was bundled under a blanket sleeping and Eva was in the baby carrier. As the wind whipped around and through me, I started thinking that this was a bad plan. Still, we were determined to make the most of it.
The retired people gather in the park for exercises and gambling. Our guide said that the Chinese only gamble for fun, if there's no money involved, there's no fun.
Again, we bailed after part 1 of the tour. We ordered room service at the hotel for lunch. (I knew Curt must be really sick if he suggested that). Again, more lying around and more kid-destruction as Ian started to feel better.
We decided to have a much more laid back plan for Day 4, eating Peiking Duck to celebrate American Thanksgiving. Our friends were staying at the Grand Hyatt and the Peiking Duck at the Made in China restaurant there got very good reviews so we jumped in a cab and headed over.
What a great restaurant! The place is decorated with fresh ingredients, teapots and other cook wear. You can see the cooks pulling with duck out of the wood fired oven. Other cooks are making handmade noodles and dumplings in the open. We had ordered two ducks and an order of noodles for the kids. Ian loved the duck so we really could have finished 3 ducks without a problem. They carve the duck at the table for you and then make you soup out of the duck bones. The duck skin is supposed to be dipped in sugar and eaten. The soup was delicious and perfect for our colds. Thankfully, I was eating again at this point.
Our final morning in Beijing was spent freezing our butts off looking for treasures at an outdoor market. I picked up an iron Buddha head, some beads, brass door knockers and a metal fish lock. Our friend helped us bargain. I hate to negotiate, but I bought myself a bracelet and negotiated for it. My friend's perspective is good, just decide what you want to pay and as long as you are getting a good deal compared to Korea, then who cares? These people were going to be out in the cold all day so why squeeze them for the last RMB? It was too cold for how long it would take. We did, however, get their prices down a lot because the initial was almost always $100. I didn't have the energy to take pictures, but my friend did. They would have been great pictures with my camera. Again, Ian spent this adventure under a blanket in the Terrain.
We are back in Seoul, still recovering. We have a double entry visa so we might try to go back before it expires. In the meantime, we need to find a beach somewhere warm to go next!