I think today’s activities and experiences could fill an entire book, but I will stick to the highlights. No need to thank me for this; the bribes I received will suffice.
Today we had plans to go to the Beijing Museum of Natural History to see dinosaur bones. This is one of the excursions we have been looking forward to since we heard we were coming here. And did we ever pick the perfect day to go somewhere indoors. The wind was blowing sand from the Gobi Dessert in Mongolia so fiercely we decided to buy respirator masks for the kids. Thank goodness the 7-Eleven across the street from our apartment stocks up on them.
These severe dust storms from the dessert is typical of the spring here. In fact, we learned today there is a forest being planted outside of the city to try and help protect it from this onslaught.
Our gracious hosts, Lee and Ray, were just as excited to go to the museum as we were since neither of them had ever been. So, we headed to the subway for our first ride.
What a pleasure it was to ride on such a clean subway. Greg and I were very impressed with the ease of travel it provided. Well, except for the speed of the gates that open and quickly close after you pay. The kids get to go for free, but the catch is you have to get them AND you through the gate before it closes. WAY easier said than done. I have a bruise on my hip to prove that. I will not be posting a picture of this; you can thank me later.
Lee wanted to make sure we had full tummies and brought us “breakfast” in case any of us were hungry. These, ahem, breakfast items included the Chinese versions of kit kats and moon pies. It’s no wonder the kids never want to go home when that is what they get to eat for breakfast!
After the subway ride, we had a quick bus ride to the museum. The interspersing of old and crumbling buildings, still called home to many, with the new sky scrapers provided such an odd and jarring juxtaposition. Literally, the old was shadowed by the new.
When we arrived at the museum, which was free with a reservation and a minimum group of five, it was full, and I mean ALIVE and THRIVING, with children. The palpable joy of the children, including our own, as they marveled at the dinosaur bones was so invigorating. All of us were entranced by the size and presence of the old bones. But what would an experience be without our CHILDREN STEALING THE THUNDER AWAY FROM THESE ANCIENT MARVELS? I know we sound like a broken record when we talk about this, but the stares, smiles, and cheek stroking was so prevalent today that even our hosts were surprised by the intensity.
Here is a picture Greg took of a couple of women wanting a picture with Emily:
The woman taking the picture was trying her very best to get Emily to cooperate and smile, but, well, Emily is her own person and simply frowned. After this encounter, Lee and Ray mentioned that the two women had been following us for quite some time.
Here is another example of a family wanting a picture of Braedyn and Emily with their son, who, by the way, looks to me like he is wondering what all this fuss is about.
Uh, yeah, this last one was a ride that cost 15 yuan (a little over 2 bucks). At the end of the ride, the dinosaur lays a toy egg that you get to keep. Braedyn is waiting with fascination for the birthing.
The bus ride back to the subway station was just as full of patron saints of Braedyn and Emily as the museum had been. A very kind older woman insisted that Greg, who was holding Emily, take her seat. Then she and another older woman began to chat with Lee and Ray about the kids. Braedyn impressed them with his few words of Chinese. A seat opened up further back on the bus, and it was surreal to watch the flutter of activity around the kids from this slight distance. One father grabbed his son out of his seat to try and get him a better look at Braedyn. The women chatted on and on about how beautiful our children were and then provided a laundry list of places we should take them while we are here.
After a lovely, surreal, and introspective day in Beijing and at the museum, we convinced our hosts that we were going to DIE WITHOUT A HOTPOT FIX.