A bit about the Himsel Zoo Crew

We have been blessed to have four wonderful children that we affectionately call the "Zoo Crew". Our house if filled with alot of noise, moving parts, love and laughter. But it always felt like we were still missing someone at the table. Deb follows along with a number of advocacy sites for waiting children from China, but it wasn't until the fall of 2015 that we found our son. We were drawn to a photo of an adorable boy soon to "age out" of his orphanage in China. Deb knew almost immediately he was meant to be ours. Even though Chris took a little longer, it wasn't too long before we started down that adoption journey again. This has led us down another whirlwind paper chase to bring home our boy. We are so close to making the trip to China, and can't wait to make Matthew the newest Zoo Crew member.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Beijing - first full day

For our fist full day here, we are on our own. So Chris had arranged a private tour for us to see some things none of us had done before - tour of the Temple of Heaven, the antique market, and the Gulou hutong neighborhood. We started with a large breakfast buffet with traditional Chinese and western options. Those who know us well, know that Chris was all about the basic breakfast, while I enjoyed the stir fried noodles, soured cabbage, steamed buns and soysauce-soaked boiled eggs along with my bacon and sausage. And the fruit was really good - especially the watermelon and lychees.

Then we are off for our day of sight seeing - we were met by Lisa, our guide and our drive Mr. Tao (or at least I think that was his name). Our tour guide Lisa is pretty soft spoken and often difficult to understand, but very nice and accommodating.  First stop...

The Temple of Heaven

The traffic was crazy, and on many occasions I wondered how more people aren't killed navigating the streets of Beijing.  The way the scooters and bikes weave in and out of traffic, and the risks the drivers take made me close my eyes a number of times, certain I was going to witness a tragedy. But rest assured, no person or animals were injured during our day. Lisa explained that the temple was built in 1420 as a place for the emperors of the Ming & Qing dynasties went to worship Heaven and pray for good harvests. The entire complex has a number of sections, including an area that is used as a public park for morning exercise. We saw a number of groups gathered along the path  - singing, playing the saxophone, playing Chinese chess, or engaged in competitive round of Jianzi, a game which I'm sure was the premise for our hacky sack.  And we walked through what Andrew declared as a "playground for old people" it was packed full of all ages.  Lisa asked Andrew if he wanted to try anything but I think he was a little worried he might not be able to keep up. 

We spent the next few hours walking through the many building in the Temple. It was beautiful. Built around the same time as the Forbidden City, it has many of the same details in the building. Here are few photos from the Temple of Heaven.

Jianzi in the park

the main temple

beautiful stone carvings everywhere

the beautiful stone walls around the ceremonial site

detailed paintings along the long walkways

Gulou Hutong
Our guide Lisa also took us to the antique market which is like a large flea market where locals will also go to buy wholesale.  It was an interesting couple of hours going from booth to booth looking at stones and antique china pieces, as well as some beautiful paintings.  We found a booth where the artist painted beautiful quotes and poems in Chinese caligraphy on fans.  I could have spent hours there going through all of his fans, but we headed off to our last stop walkinhg through the Gulou hutong neighborhood.  The street leading into the hutong neighborhood is quite the hopping spot. Lots of bars, live performers, shops, and restaurants.  We then walked through the neighborhood as Lisa shared with us the history of the neighborhood and the interest to preseve them. We felt we really got to spend the day getting a good taste of the local culture. 

Lisa tells us they do this to protect the tires from dogs urinating on them


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