Beijing- Day 2 - Saturday.

Today we went out with one of the recommended guides from our Agency,  Helen!
I must say that we have had incredible guides and drivers so far.  Helen was so much fun.
She instantly felt like someone we had known for a long time and took such great care of us.
We left the hotel in the Morning and went straight for the Hutong Tour.. where we had a guide names Lotus you will see in the pictures.

The Hutongs are the tight knit communities from Old World Beijing.  On this tour, you see the drum tower, which is how they kept time over 600 years ago.  The days were 12 hours long and each "hour" was 120min.  They used a water clock with 4 jars that they filled at the start of each day and the jars would pour into each other and at certain increments, spill over into the next jar.  Then the final jar contained a ruler stick - one of 24 different lunar phases that they would change out... Each time it was another hour, the water caused the stick to raise 2 notches.  Then a little statue banged a cymbal and the drummers would come out and do a drum routine that would ring out over the city thus telling you what time it was.  We happened to be there to see the local students come out and do one of these routines - same as the one who drummed at Olympics opening ceremony.  This was powerful.  We loved it.  Then we limed the almost 70 steps back down.

We then rode in a couple rickshaws around these Hutongs.. the oldest community in Beijing.
We saw how the people in this community really live.. Helen told me that  in normal China, you will see someone and not even ask, How are you, or How is your day, but that here in the hutong, you share everything, even community bathroom.  We stopped into a host home (where they host people from the tour and allow you to see their actual living quarters, sometimes even cooking a meal for you.  Her courtyard was beautiful, even a birdcage and a cage with a cricket inside.  I seriously think i might get a cricket in a cage when we get home.  They make the most glorious music and you just feed them a cucumber or carrot every 3 days.  Now don't go trying to beat me to the punch on that.. I know some of you are tempted.. let's start a new trend. Inside, she had many artifacts and furniture that was very old dating back to the Ming and Chen Dynastys. (sp?)

We toured around and went into a Hutong market where they said the familes don't just shop every day, they shop before each MEAL.  The ingredients are freshest possible.  We bought steamed buns outside with vegetables and meat inside and tried it.  Helen purchases spicy pork noodles for us to try.
Inside the market, we bought Goji Berries, local pepper, star anise, and saffron all for $10 total! Import companies are making quite a markup for these exotic spices.  Let's start a new business.. Who's with me?

Then, Helen took us to the most perfect lunch restaurant.. Hot Pot.  This was a Muslim restaurant.  They sold a lot of Lamb.  This was AMAZING food.  kindof like fondue, but you boil the meat, veggies, and noodes in this spicy water and then eat it with a sauce that tastes very similar to Thai peanut sauce.  Helen did all the work of cooking it for us.

After lunch, we went to the temple of heaven.  This is where the emperor went to pray for the planting, rain, and harvest of the crops .. he went 3 x a year and fasted 3 days, prayed for 4.  The number 9 was a big deal here.  Everything was 9.  9 steps, 9 dots in the door up and across = 81, etc etc.  Seriously 9 something was everywhere.  9 is a powerful number in China.  We went to a store where art students sell their art to make money for brushes and papers.  On our way out, there is a corridor where a LOT of retired people hang out selling wares, playing poker and Chinese checkers, smoking, singing, and dancing together.  It costs only $20 a year to get in, so this is their hangout.  They seemed to be having a really good time.

From here we went to the shopping market.  This is like 6 floors of hilarity.  Sean was just in heaven here let me tell you.  No photos of this one.  I was too busy bargaining and got 2 pair of toms, a pair of nikes, 2 crocs, and those mens canvas style crocs shoes.. all for $55.  I have a bit of a Chinese shoe fetish.  Everyone here has the cutest shoes on. - esp the kids.  I just stare at all the shoes that everyone has on as they are walking by.

At this point, Sean's eyes were so bloodshot.  We were going to go for Peking duck and then Snack street (with all the crazy stuff on a stick like scorpion and starfish) We weren't really hungry yet but I could tell from Sean's eyes, and my legs and little Zoe looked ready to pass out on the dirt - that we needed to eat.. so we went to another local restaurant and had the traditional fried duck, sliced and with tortillas and cucumber and some kind of brown sauce.. too incoherent to take pics here.  

It was a great day.  My mandarin still leaves little to be desired.  I had a set back today, learning that the pronunciation for thank you can mean shoe, blood, thanks, and something else.  So either I am at times really saying thank you but at other times may be saying "blood, blood!!" which would have been appropriate today anyway as sean cut his arm on some foil at the restaurant and there was initially a lot of blood there... OR "shoe shoe" which honestly was going through my head most of the day as i watched all the cute shoes walk by.  

Im not normally a blogger - but i have an advantage now.  While you are just nearing the end of your Saturday, we are waking up over here at like $3:45 from the jet lag.. wait, why did I put a number sign in front of that?

Enjoy the pics.. 



  1. what a great experience.....watching and praying!!!!


  2. great shots! I love the one with the steamed buns. Our little Max loves them. Thanks for posting, and can't wait to wake up tomorrow morning, and hear your news! Michelle www.wahe.us/blog

  3. We are following your journey every day and praying for safety and rest. :-) Won't be long now before little Lucy is in your arms!

  4. sooooo excited and happy for yall!!! :) lora

  5. This cracked me up Lottie. Loving all the details-- fascinating!

  6. Looking sooo forward to tomorrow! Praying into it!

  7. What am awesome adventure. ... and Lucy day is here!