Exploring the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace for the Ming Dynasty through the end of the Qing Dynasty. It was home to emperors for almost 500 years and also served as the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government. It now houses the Palace Museum. Built from 1406 to 1420, it consists of 980 buildings and covers 7,800,000 square feet.

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Entering the Forbidden City.

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Touching as many of theses gold knobs on the doors is said to bring good luck.

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Taking a break from walking a good part of the 7,800,000 square feet.

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You don’t really want to experience the one or even the two star-rated toilets. BYOTP.

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Tiananmen Square

JUNE 11, 2012
DAY SIX

First stop on our sightseeing tour of Beijing is Tiananmen Square. It is the large city square in the center of Beijing named after the Tiananmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) located to its north separating it from the Forbidden City to its south.

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The Tiananmen Gate ~ The Gate Of Heavenly Peace

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There are lots of soldiers in the area, in uniforms like these and who knows how many in plain clothes? We saw lines of young men in soldier formation like those above, but they were wearing clothes like the rest of us. After marching into the square, I suppose they disperse and blend in among the rest of the tourists.

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And who knows who else is watching…

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Government buildings on the east side of the square.

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Watching a large screen in the square.

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Peking Duck

Peking duck is a famous dish from Beijing and is considered one of China’s national foods. It is sliced by the chef in front of the diners and served with pancakes and an assortment vegetable and sauces.

We all experience Peking duck during our first meal in Beijing at Da Dong Restaurant.

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An old Chinese poem projected on the wall of our room in the restaurant. Uncle Stew is quizzing the boys to see if they recognize any of the characters.

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Stewart and Kim’s friend Zhang Huaying.

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And other dishes we enjoy…

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Lychee, a fruit native to southern China, for dessert.

Arrival in Beijing

JUNE 10, 2012

Beijing, formerly Peking, is the capital of the People’s Republic of China and is the second largest city in China by urban population with over 20 million people after Shanghai with 23 million people. In Chinese, Beijing means Northern Capital.

At the airport we are met by our tour guide Leilei, who will accompany us throughout our time in Beijing. She is kind, energetic and will teach us a lot about China and Beijing.

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We travel around in a coach or small bus.

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Our hotel in Beijing.

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A little down time

JUNE 10, 2012
DAY FIVE

We relax a bit before we board our flight to Beijing by taking a swim in the pool at Stewart & Kim’s building.

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Waiting at the Shanghai airport.

Xiao Fan Yi

“My little translators.”. I’m very proud (and a little bit envious) of my boys’ ability to communicate using their Mandarin. Thanks to them, I’m able find out how much things cost, what other people’s names are and where the restrooms are, among other things. Ryan was very thoughtful and asked his teacher Chen laoshi, before we left, how to order all of our favorite drinks…lemonade for Tyler, Sprite for Alex, wine for Mom and beer for Dad.

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This does not need any translating (see window). Ryan also knows how to order me a tall soy latte:).

Dinner on the Huangpu River

For dinner we eat at a restaurant called The Kitchen along the Huangpu River. It is the most important shipping artery of Shanghai and is a branch of the Yangtze River. We enjoy delicious food, great wine, a beautiful view, and fun conversation about our exciting day and our departure for Beijing in the morning.

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After one too many Sprites.

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Over his shoulder in the distance…Eric just can’t escape.

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The Pearl Tower

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Back home to celebrate Ryan and Kim’s special birthdays.

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This is just the end of day four!

We like to move it move it.

We’re off to the Mercedes Benz arena for a showing of Madagascar 3-D. This arena was built for the World Expo, which was held in Shanghai in 2010.

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Our attempt at being serious.

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The China pavilion.

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More dim sum

For lunch we have traditional Chinese dim sum at Crystal Jade. Joining us were Stewart’s good friend Dan and his son Hunter.

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Ryan and Hunter.

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Zhiming, Will and Li Wen.

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Brave Alex sampling the chicken feet.

Scavenger Hunt

JUNE 9, 2012
DAY FOUR

In order to to really get to know the area in and around Stewart and Kim’s neighborhood, we decided to have a scavenger hunt. We divided into three teams. Team one: Li Wen (Kim’s niece and Zhiming’s sister), Stewart and Alex. Team two: Eric, Stephanie, Tyler and Will (Li Wen’s fiancé). Team three: Kim, Ryan and Zhiming. The categories of items on our list to find: craziest, funniest, coolest and most practical. See results below…

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Winner of the craziest: pig face.

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Winner of the funniest: Zhiming and Ryan’s costumes.

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Winner of the coolest: the Lamborghini.

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Winner of the most practical: the Tevas.

Other fun pics…

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Has anyone seen Uncle Stew?

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