Silvercat - 8/27/2007 9:23 PM ET
You really had a crash course in a foreign country! Andora sounds beautiful...how exciting for you, Ione...
I took a Tylenol PM so I could sleep despite my jet lag. I woke up around eight am Beijing time. We had breakfast at the hotel, which we opted to have included with our room. That was a very wise choice. It was a buffet with full western style pastries omelets and made to order and waffles. There were also many of Chinese foods. My daughter Kilah and eight year old grandson Judah were already there two days ahead of us in the same hotel. Daveís two sisters Kathy and Chris, Daveís niece Emily, nephew Abraham and Daveís Mom and Dad were staying at the hotel as well. Jesseís best friend Ken and his wife Krista were staying at Jesseís apartment.
Breakfast was a good time to get together with the family and make plans. My first plan as I informed Dave was to not spend all our time with his family. He agreed. We both like his family and do enjoy their company but to spend every minute with that big a group would be taxing on all of us. My daughter also said she didnít want to spend too much time with the out laws.
My son was going to collect the whole group for lunch. In the meantime my daughter took me to a small grocery store just a couple of blocks from our hotel. This was my first real look at China outside of the hotel, airport and car. My grandson already told me that the cars drove on the sidewalk. There were many on people bikes and I noticed that crossing the street could be treacherous. The cars do not stop for people even when the walk sign is on. Traffic laws in Beijing are just suggestions as my son informed me. The biggest always gets the right of way.
The grocery store was confusing to me, as I still didnít understand the money exchange. Everything looked expensive. I picked up some peanuts and told my daughter look how much these are. She said exacerbated, ďMom, donít you get it? Whatever price it is divide it by 7.50 and that is the price.Ē I still didnít really get it so for each item I had her tell me how much it was in dollars. I picked up bottles of water, Coke and the peanuts and we went back to the hotel.
My son who has never been prompt came around one after everyone was already famished. I got my first look at my seven-month granddaughter Andora. She was absolutely beautiful. Thick dark hair, pale white skin and beautiful round brown eyes. All she needed was some red lipstick and she would have been Snow White the fairest one of all. She was the most beautiful combination of east and west Iíve ever seen. People would stop my daughter in law on the street to comment on how beautiful she is.
Jesse divided us into three groups. Two groups would take a taxi and some would ride in the car with my daughter in law Iris and Jesse. Jesse had pieces of paper written in Chinese to where the cab should take us as well as telling with the hotel person who directs the cabs. The hotel has cards with the hotel address in Chinese and English including tourist attractions that you can point to. I went with Jesseís friend Ken and his wife Krista. The problem was even though Jesse had the address or whatever written in Chinese for the cab driver he never told us where we were going. After a drive across town the cab dropped us off on a busy street. We got out and looked around for a while and Ken decided we should cross the street and look for our group.
While in the middle of the street cars started whizzing past me and I froze like a deer in the headlights. Ken and Krista came back to retrieve me. They both took a hand and guided me while I started yelling, ďWatch out, old lady crossing the streetĒ. Ken and Krista guided me safely across like good scouts. I was just glad I wasnít with my daughter because when I would panic in the street around her she would try to pretend that she didnít know me.
We looked around across the street and decided that the cab driver took us to the wrong place and the only thing to do was take another cab. Ken hailed us another cab and slipped him the piece of paper and we were on our way to who knows where again. The cab left us off right by what looked like some kind of a guard by a gated area and pointed in that direction. We approached the guard and he looked at our piece of paper, called another guard over and he looked at our piece of paper and pointed across the street.
This time the street was not so busy and we crossed over, walked a little way and there it was Steak and Eggs. There was our group too. It looked like a mom and pop resurtrant
Except everyone was Chinese. The menu had hamburgers, pizza many other American foods and of course steak and eggs. I ordered pizza and it was good. I also had my usual Coke.
After we ate the group decided to go shopping at the Pearl Market. I didnít really want to go. I was tired and wanted to spend time with my granddaughter. Iris agreed to stay with me, as did Dave and my grandson Judah. We went back to the hotel room while Jesse played host with the shoppers. I was glad to have time to spend with Andora and Iris to get to know them better.
After a little rest at the hotel Iris told me we could take the stroller and shop near the hotel. There were a few shops down a little street we started with. The sales people were very aggressive. I was glad I was with Iris. They would show me the price for something and she would look at it and say too much and they would go down and down. There were silk jackets, fake designer bags, T-shirts and Chinese knick-naks. I didnít buy anything much to the chagrin of the sales people. I decided it was too early to buy anything. In China they donít like to take just looking or Iíll think about it for an answer.
Next we went down another street and found another shop that sold just about anything. The salespeople were just as aggressive. I wanted to buy a Chinese baby doll for my blue-eyed blond two-year old granddaughter Chloe. There were some decorative Chinese dolls and some Western style baby dolls with blond hair and blue eyes but no Chinese baby dolls. I asked the sales girl. I said I want a doll like her pointing to Andora and she said no she didnít have any.
Iris said there was a mall down the street so we went there. It looked like any mall in America except all the shoppers were Chinese as well as all the salespeople. Iris said that in the mall prices are as marked which was a relief to me. We went in several stores looking for the Chinese baby doll. I found lots of baby dolls but they all had round blue eyes white skin and blond or brown hair. I would ask the clerk and point to the dolls eyes and hair and then to her eyes and say Chinese to show her what I wanted. The closest match was a girl doll dressed in Chinese clothes with dark hair but round brown eyes. We went to a toy section that had Barbieís and they were all the same as we have in America, most were blond with blue eyes. Around the corner there were finally some beautiful Barbie style Chinese dolls. Some had regular clothes and some were dressed in Chinese attire. I decided to keep them in the back of my mind if I didnít find the baby doll I wanted.
We headed back to the hotel. Jesse came to pick up Iris and Andora. Dave went to the pool with Judah and I took a little nap. When we got up my husband said he was hungry.
My husband does not like Italian, Mexican, Chinese or any kind of food other than hamburgers, steaks and fries. We had heard that there was an Outback Steakhouse down the street. My sister in law had tried to find it the day before unsuccessfully with my husbandís parents. We set out again with what we thought were better directions. It was the sisters, Dave and I. We went down the street and turned a corner where the whole block was filled with outdoor food vendors. They were all lined up with red and white striped awnings. None of us were adventurous enough to try the funny smelling food coming from the booths. We never did find Outback. I wasnít that hungry anyway. We stopped at the McDonaldís, which satisfied Dave. We went back to the hotel and went to bed.
Weary traveler tips:
Get breakfast at the hotel if possible
Pedestrians have no right of way
Keep the card with your hotelís address at all times
Always know where your are going
Salespeople are very aggressive, unless you really are interested donít make eye contact and keep on walking
Day three to follow
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