Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday, November 20 by Joy

Friday, November 20 by Joy
I started the day by waking up at 3:00 in the morning. I tried to go back to sleep, but the next time I woke up it was 4:00. My mom also woke up around that time so we whispered in the couch area. Stefan got up around 5:00 and Jordan slept until 7:00.

We ate breakfast at the hotel buffet. It had an odd combination of food. Most of it was not what I would consider breakfast food. Jordan ate mostly bacon and watermelon.

We met our guide Lisa in the lobby at 9:00. Then we drove to Tian'anmen Square. Traffic is crazy. We had a lot of close calls. Gung (rhymes with sung) was a good driver. Cars just go into whatever lane they feel like without using turn signals. Bicycles weave in and out. Pedestrians take their lives into their hands when crossing the street.

It was clear, but very cold and windy in Tian'anmen Square. There were 56 big red pillars that represented the nationalities that make up China. We then went across the street to the Forbidden City. The emperors lived there long ago. It was built from 1407 to 1420. The place is huge. You go through many gates into many courtyards before you get to the actual palace. There are 9,999 rooms because they thought that heaven had 10,000 rooms. In the back we saw a neat garden. As we came out of the other side we crossed a very wide moat.

After the Forbidden City we went to eat lunch. It was very yummy. We had Kung Pow Chicken, Sweet and Sour Pork, Garlic Broccoli, some kind of beef, soup, rice, and fried/steamed bread.

We then went to the Temple of Heaven. The emperor would offer sacrifice 2 times a year to have a good harvest. Currently, the older people go and hang out in the outside hallway, a place they like to gather. They play cards, do Karaoke, and play hacky sack.

We were very tired at this point, but we headed to the Pearl Market. It has many floors full of stalls (think flea market). At this market, you are expected to bargain for a better price. All the vendors swoop on you to buy from them. It is very overwhelming especially if you are exhausted. We bought some pearls from a vendor that Lisa, our guide, says gives the best price. Stefan enjoyed bargaining for a good price, but after a few purchases, even that became laborious. We went to some other sections and bought a dragon kite (for Jordan), a panda ornament and a framed portrait of the Great Wall made from various items, mainly feathers.

We then went next door to Toy City in search of a ball that splats when you throw it to the ground and then goes back to its shape. We found one for about 75 cents. We had to go back to the Pearl Market to pick up the jewelry that we bought then we decided to go to a different floor where they were selling purses and shoes. It was horrible. They wouldn't let you pass and they kept pushing shoes into Jordan's hands. He got very tired of the girls touching his hair. My mom ended up buying a purse for $15 after trying to walk away when she was told a higher price. I did not like the experience of the Pearl Market.

After shopping at the Pearl Market, we went to the acrobat show. D. was not feeling well so a lady from our agency took her back to the hotel. The show started at 5:15 and lasted about 1 hour. It was an awesome show and we had seats in the third row (VIP). C. and I fell asleep at the end. My lack of sleep the precious 2 days had caught up with me.

We went to supper and had a corn dish, rice, pork in tofu wrappers, green beans, chicken wings, and rice. Jordan started falling asleep at the table at the end of the meal. He did fall asleep in the van on the way to the hotel.

As soon as we got back, I got ready for bed. I laid down and immediately fell asleep. It was an exhausting day.

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