Yuanmingyuan Park (Old Summer Palace)

5/13

Line 4, Yuanmingyuan Park subway stop, exit B, walk east

Cost: Full access, adults Y25, kids Y10 + more for boats (Y20) and small trolley buses (Y8)

          under 120 cm = free

I’d heard that the ruins of the Old Summer Palace were fun for kids to just run around and the As (our friends from Virginia that live out in Shunyi and are homeschooling now) and the WAs had never been. They both drove and ran into a few problems (apparently when a light goes out here, you might be stuck in an intersection indefinitely because no one knows about treating it like a four way stop). So we arrived a little early and I managed to purchase the full access tickets all by myself.

Top right picture… the kids all congregated on this rock which was a great photo op but while the moms were all getting their cameras ready, this Chinese woman jumped in and had her picture taken.

The park is pretty big and we had a lot of kids with us so we took a boat (actually two boats, we filled one entire boat and then there were still four of us left). After the first boat ride, the little boats docked and then three boats worth of people got on a larger boat and we were altogether.

I like this bottom left picture PS took of me because while we were waiting for the second boat to fill up, my phone rang and I had to answer some questions about the Relief Society activity that was happening the next day and Squidgems was pulling on my sweater trying to tell me something. It just seemed to be a funny way to sum up how crazy my life is right now. I was in the Old Summer Palace, in Beijing, China on a boat talking on the phone for my church calling while kids were pestering me.

After the boat ride, we stopped and ate lunch before entering the ticket area for the ruins. The kids climbed up a “mountain” and had a blast while we ate. After the ruins, they begged to play there again so we let them.

We made the kids group together for this “maze.” All the shorter kids had to be in a group with at least one tall kid so we could keep track of them. While the moms waited for the kids to finish, an old Chinese guy with a selfie stick asked to have a picture of he and his wife with us. The kids finished and we told them out of the corner of our smiling mouths to keep moving or we’d be there all day getting our pictures taken!

We went in a little shop to buy water and as we were walking away, Squidgems started being sad because he wanted an ice cream. I don’t even think M WA heard him, she was just already being sweet and buying him in ice cream. She told me later that sometimes she likes to buy the food she can’t eat (gluten, egg, dairy allergies) for other people so they can enjoy it. She made Squidgems very happy! Then we road this little bus/golf cart back towards where we got on the boat.

 

Me, trying to be a photographer.

When we got home, Squidgems immediately wanted to make a thank you card for M WA for his ice cream. He even asked me what color her shirt was so he could do a good job drawing a picture of her holding his ice cream and he dictated a note to PS so she could write it for him.

While PS is away…

While PS was in Hong Kong, we took the boys on a few little adventures.

Saturday, 4/30 we went to the mall down by the southern Ikea and ate lunch at a yummy Japanese place called Udon and Tempura.

 Above: Udon noodles… delicious, with a hint of curry. Mmmm.
Below: a curry beef and rice dish

Then we shopped a little at the mall (bought Squidgems his Star Wars BB8 shirt from Uniqlo) and then explored the Subway Culture Park.

 

 

We found this giant tile subway map at the Subway Culture Park.

Little Guy (far left) is standing on our subway stop and Buddy (far right) is standing on the church subway stop.

 

 

 

 Inside an old Beijing subway train.

From there we headed to just south of Tiananmen Square and explored some hutong streets while trying to find the Christian Woodcarver so we could buy a nativity.

 

We ended the day at the  Xidan bookstore (B shopped for maps) and then a Korean Bibimbap restaurant at on of the Xidan malls. Bibimbap is one of B’s new favorite foods.

Top left is a weird bibimbap… there’s an egg in that seaweed ball. Bottom left is a beef and rice dish. Bottom right is beef udon noodles. Delicious.

Yuyuantan Park and Cherry Blossoms

4/8  line 1, Military Museum stop, exit A or E2, walk north

Cost: adults Y10, kids Y5, under 120 cm = free

It was a nice spring day so we suggested to the WAs that we check out the cherry blossoms that were supposedly blooming at Yuyuantan Park, out towards us.

Top left picture… before entering the park, you walk by the Millenium Monument (I think it houses an art museum of some sort). The Military Museum is also in this area but there were too many buildings blocking a good shot of it. The bottom two pictures are organized dance groups in the park. Because of the cherry blossoms, there was a fair or something of the sort so the park was more crowded than usual and there were various booths set up selling stuff.

Bottom left: Squidgems was avoiding the camera all day so we were
glad he finally joined the other kids for this group shot.

Above picture and this story from PS: I walked over to a tree, snapped a picture of some flowers, and turned to leave. A Chinese guy waved me back over, showed me a patch of flowers that was less wilted, used his hand to block out the sun, and told me the Chinese word for photograph, and motioned for me to take the picture. When I did, he told me “Beautiful!” and left. So, thanks random Chinese guy. It does look beautiful.

We took a boat from the western side of the park back to the middle. It was Y10 per person (Squidgems was free). Apparently our friend S told her little sister, A, who was afraid, that she’d pay her Y100 if the boat capsized. We were quite an attraction. Everyone in our boat was super excited when we got on and people in boats we went by were trying to take our picture.  grin emoticon

Bottom right picture: This adorable little girl toddled over to Squidgems’s scooter and then her dad sort of looked at me like, “can she take it for a spin?” He put her on it and she pushed away with an adorable smile and giggle. Squidgems was very worried.

grin emoticon

Sugar blowing…
These are just the blossoms on our walk home from our subway stop.
 

Beijing Zoo

3/25  line 4, Beijing Zoo stop, exit C1

Cost*: adults Y14, kids Y7, under 120 cm = free
*combined ticket is zoo+pandas and this is the off-season price since we went before March 31

Baby lemurs! And more.

The zoo isn’t as sad as most of the reviews we read. It was frustrating to see all the zoo patrons feeding the animals (throwing muffins to the bears, feeding lettuce and other vegetables to the camels and ostriches, etc.) and the elephants/hippos/rhinos were all inside in their tiny enclosures instead of outside.

Jingshan Park

3/10 Cost: Adult Y2, Kids Y1, 120 cm and under = free

After Behai Park we walked over to Jingshan Park. Jingshan Park overlooks the Forbidden City. Our family has visited Jingshan back when we first arrived, but the air was really smoggy so the view wasn’t great.

The kids could have played here all day, which was nice because Becky and I could just sit and chat. But then someone needed a toilet so we moved on, found the restrooms, explored the park, came back and played here more, and then found different restrooms on our way out of the park.

It was a clear day so we could see the CCTV Tower in Yuyuantan Park, the observation towers in Olympic Forest Park, the tallest building in Beijing and Short Pants.

And a much better view of the Forbidden City (which was the Chinese Imperial Palace) than last time we came.
Squidgems called Jingshan Park “broken Temple of Heavens” or “the Temple of Heaven with all the ramps.” He loves Temple of Heaven. And he loved sliding down all the ramps here like they were slides.

Top left picture here… I think it’s a coat rack for hanging coats and bags on while you exercise, dance, do tai chi, etc.

Leaving the park, Squidgems had to go potty again. He said he needed to poop so when we came across a public restroom, we went in. I had to try to hold him over a squat toilet (he now declares, “they have a potty like we have” or sometimes “they have a western potty” or “they have a quat potty” whenever we enter a Chinese bathroom) while he tooted and said he was all done. A toot! Grossest bathroom smell ever all for a tiny toot!

Behai Park and White Dagoba

3/10  line 6, Behai North exit

Cost: Adult Y5, Kid Y2.5, under 120 cm = free (note: we didn’t pay for the extra entrances)

As spring approached, we were excited to get out and explore when the air quality and temperature were nice enough. We braved a slight chill to explore some parks central to Beijing with the WAs.

In the spring (warmer than it was when we went), this lake is covered in lily pads.

We walked from Behai Park through a fun little market and into Jingshan Park above the Forbidden City.