Yes, we're still alive and well. It rained most of the time we were in Hong Kong so we got soaked while trying to soak up some of the sights. We took pictures but they're not loading to this blog correctly so I'm not even sure if the cute pic we took of our Empress Maddy is displaying to the left. Since Typepad blogs are blocked in Beijing, I can't check. Please comment and let me know? (Thanks Diana for letting me know you can see the pics! I'll try to add some more!)
We left Hong Kong on Sunday and should have been in Beijing by 6:00 PM but due to all the bad weather the day before, flights were backed up and were stuck at the airport for six hours and didn't get to Beijing until midnight.
We arrived at our hotel and discovered that the closest they could get to "adjoining" rooms was to have one room on the 11th floor and one room on the 5th. Since we can't split up our kids, that meant that Laura had one room and Andrew and I (and both of the girls) had another. But sleeping with our squirmmy 3 year olds wasn't the worst of it. Our hotel was the 'overflow' hotel for the World Wide Web Conference and it was supposed to be Four Star but it was so filthy that we were afraid to let the kids walk on the floor in their bare feet. As Gwenny drifted off to sleep, she said "Mommy, my pillow smells like smoke" and I wasn't too surprised since there was an empty pack of cigs in the trash can (maybe the maids chain-smoke while they clean?). Before going to bed, we wanted to plug in our cell phone charger and noticed that the electrical wiring was practically exposed and looked like something Dr Frankenstein might have used to bring his monster back to life. And there were vintage WW2 gas masks in the closet!! I think I slept with one eye open all night!
The next morning (Monday), we decided to check out of one of the rooms and leave Andrew there while the rest of us moved to a better hotel in the heart of the city (close to shopping - oh yeah!). Since Andrew is working at the WWW Conference all week, this seemed like the best solution to the hotel problem we were having.
Our new hotel is GORGEOUS! After checking in, our tour guide (Linda) took us shopping to replace our soggy Hong Kong shoes (moldy and smelly and probably growing new life forms in ziploc bags even as I type this) and then we went to the Acrobat show. The girls loved that show and even though they both missed their naps, I don't think they took their eyes off the stage or blinked the entire time we were there. Both of them cried when it was time to leave because they wanted us to buy another ticket and didn't understand why we wouldn't/couldn't. It was a very long day and we all fell exhaused into bed.
Tuesday morning, Gwen found the shoe horn in the closet and asked me what it was. I told her and she said "Mommy, how do you blow it?" Gosh, I love that adorable kid! We met Linda in the lobby and piled into the van for another action packed day at Tiannanmon Square and the Forbidden City. This trip was quite different from last time we were here. We didn't have Gwen yet, we were here with a large tour group of about 25 people, and it was about 100 degrees outside! Today, we're bundled up in as many layers of clothes as we packed and we were still a little bit chilly. Maddy looks even more Chinese in all those funky layers! Speaking of Maddy, once we were inside the Forbidden City, she announced for the 4th time since breakfast that she needed to p*ee-p*ee. This is very much the norm for Maddy so we came prepared with our little travel potty and she used it right there! Some day she'll tell her Grandkids that she p*eed where he ancestors weren't even allowed to walk! (click image for larger view)
Wednesday we visited the Pearl Factory, Summer Palace, Panda Zoo, Temple of Heaven, and the Kung Foo Show. We left the hotel at 8:30 am and didn't return until after 9:00 PM! That's a very long day with two small children but they did great and we had a wonderful time!
Thursday we went to the Jade Factory, Great Wall, Clossine Factory and the Hutong Tour.
Tomorrow (Friday) is a free day and we're going shopping! Not really to buy anything (we have no space in our luggage!) but mostly just to look at all the fun stuff we *might* buy if we had space. :)
Saturday we'll say goodbye to Aunt Laura and meet up with Daddy again and head to the airport to fly to Xian. I hope to be better about blogging after we leave Beijing and we have Daddy around!