This morning was designated free time. It was nice to take some time to catch up on email and enjoy a less hectic morning. It also gave me time to pack my bags and backpack. I haven’t bought anything but I still had trouble getting what I brought with me into these two bags. A side note – I spent considerable time researching for the perfect luggage to bring with me on this 2 months odyssey. I ultimately bought a 20 inch roller bag – Timbuktu Co-pilot and the corresponding Timbuktu backpack. Sean saw the luggage and decided this was the way to travel so I ordered a second set (in a slightly different color) for me. I am very happy with this luggage. If it holds up throughout my journey, I will definitely have to write a positive consumer review for Timbuktu.
We started our afternoon with a noon meal. We have had no shortage of authentic Beijing food. The meal consisted of many choices pork, duck, chicken, shrimp, vegetables, rice, soup, ending with a whole fried fish. I am getting proficient with chop sticks. I may adopt these as my new utensil when I return to the states. We have several students with various food allergies. So far we have been able to make sure to identify any dishes that may be off limits.
Our next stop was the Yonghe Lama Temple. I realize I know very little about Buddhism. There were many visitors burning incense and paying their respect to the various Buddha statues found throughout the temple. I learned about the Chinese Buddha, the Tibetan Buddha, and the India Buddha. (We were not allowed to take pictures of the Buddhas.) There were also artifacts from the Qing Dynasty that were interesting. I remember burning incense as a kid. I also remember the 3 red Buddhas Dad had brought back from one of his deployments. This is an area where I definitely need more education to fully understand the significance of Buddhism.
Exploring a local Hutong was next. There were many stores. Some reflecting ancient trades and goods and other quite modern. There were many restaurants and bars. All this area is built around 3 lakes. There were people on boats on the lake enjoying their Saturday afternoon. There were also many pedestrians, bikes (some built for 4 people to ride), and cars all sharing very narrow streets. You definitely need to pay attention as you maneuver your way around. I visited a couple of shops that sold silk items and jewelry. Since my suitcases are full, no purchases were made. I did find gelato and had a scoop.
Our transportation to visit our local family that was hosting us for dinner were Rickshaws. We all paired up and traveled in queue. Our driver was very animated and we were often playing bumper Rickshaws with the one ahead of us. Dinner was held in a local family’s home. It is apparent how important family is in China. There were picture of the couple and their child on all the walls. Although the accommodations were simple, everyone was happy and we all had a great time. We returned to the bus by way of Rickshaw.
Tonight was an early evening since we are departing at 6:30am.