Sunday, March 7, 2010

Flying Solo

After yesterday’s lazy-fest, we hit the ground running today. Literally, at 5 am. We have Braedyn and Emily to thank for that, by the way. At least it was better than their 4 am wake up time yesterday.

We hit Carrefour again and browsed the isles, bought the kids a couple of great knock-off Lego toys (just as good as the name-brand, I might add), and picked up some various types of alcohol to try. Apparently, we are on a side of Beijing that isn’t very touristy, which may explain why the kids (especially Emily) get so many stares, waves, and smiles. If we can actually get them to say hello in Chinese, it generally elicits some claps and giggles. We are our own walking circus act!

Tonight I was determined to go out to eat. Every block in this city seems to have several restaurants. The question for us was, would we be able to find one with menus that either had pictures or some sort of English translation? We felt we would score big if we could find one with both. So, we hit the streets. I saw a place nearby yesterday that I thought looked nice, so we thought we would try there first. We walked in, and we were immediately ushered toward a private room. Um… Then I started playing charades with the hostess, which I’m certain made me look like a chimp in a circus act. Through the hostess’s limited English and my grandiose gestures, we learned it was a tea house. We were allowed to bring in our own food, but they didn’t serve any there. So, we left, looking overly gracious in our smiles and gestures as we backed out the door.

We passed several other places that didn’t have very many people in them, which I didn’t take as a good sign. We forged ahead. Then we found one that was in tandem with a Dairy Queen. Yes, a Dairy Queen. There were a lot of people in there, so we thought we’d give that a shot. We found a printed menu with no English on it but it had pictures, so hooray for the ability to point! However, we could not tell what the heck anything was and decided to try another place. I saw a Japanese restaurant along the route and decided to give that a try. We hiked back toward the restaurant, crossed a busy street (safely - yay!), and walked in. We hand signaled, yet again, for a menu. This time, although a picture menu, we still weren’t sure what anything was, so we smiled and backed out to the street once again.

Greg noticed a place up a little way with bright red decorations on the outside, so we headed toward it to check it out. We walked in, and one of the several hostesses at the door held up four fingers (for four guests in the party), and I nodded. The kids were tired of walking around, and I figured we were just going to go for it. We were out for an adventure after all, right!?

Turns out we made a very good decision. It was a nice sit down restaurant, and we were attended to by at least 5 people. One promptly brought over a kid’s plate and spoon for Emily, while another brought her a high chair. We opened the menu, and as if a choir of angels started to sing with its opening, it had pictures and subtitles. Greg ordered beers for us (since for the time we are avoiding Chinese white wine), and left the food to me. Thanks, Greg. So, I picked a scrumptious fried shrimp and cashew plate and a sweet and sour chicken and beef plate. I was feeling so confident, we even ordered fried rice!

When ordering juice for the kids, we have noticed they always bring over a whole carton. This particular time they received a carrot and orange mixture (100% juice – yay!), and it was amazingly delicious! As we ordered, or should I say pointed, the guy taking our order touched Emily’s hair and smiled. She is such a novelty around here.

Before our food arrived, both kids looked like they were about the pass out on the table. We barely had time to put several bites on their plates before they actually did pass out. Greg and I scrambled to finish our savory meals and down our two enormous bottles of beer before they fell crashing down from their chairs.

So, chow we did. Imbibe we did. Then, when we were ready to go, we had no idea how to ask for the check. Greg scrambled to find something that would help on his Mandarin iPhone app, which will speak phrases for you. He found something close, and then when I flagged down someone to use it, I pushed the wrong replay button and lost it. So, I resorted back to my glamorous charades skills to ask for the check. We must have had four people at our table all trying to figure out what the crazy lady (me) was trying to say.

I think it was the kids’ drool on the table that finally tipped them off, and they ran over with our bill. Several hostesses helped me get the coat on dead-weight Emily, since Greg had his hands full with dead-weight Braedyn. Then we stepped outside. In the snow. We couldn’t do anything but laugh about it, and we headed on our way home.

If I had known I would be carrying our kids as much as we have so far on this trip, I never would have only brought one pair of shoes. Which shoes? Sketchers Shape-Ups! The ones that work out your muscles when you walk. Like I needed the extra help.

IMG_0318Mobile Photo Mar 7, 2010 8 00 15 PMIMG_0323


  1. At least they are still small enough to carry. What troopers!

  2. I think you're all troopers and I can't wait to follow your entire wishes!

  3. Loving the travelogue!!! In my limited travels, I'd have to agree - Asia is HARD. Non-romance language + few English speakers = challenge! Hope the kids get over their narcolepsy soon.

  4. I enjoyyed reading your post