Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer in the City: Day 2

This post could also be entitled, "Why We Lost Noah's Hat".

I remember hearing a speaker at one of Moody's chapel's who said that before making a decision we ought to HALT. Are you feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired? When feeling any of those particular descriptives (or perhaps situations), it can affect one's decision making abilities. Looking at my own life, I definitely see how making decisions when I'm really hungry or angry or lonely or tired has not been the best idea. It is far better to wait, and try to act with wisdom than to rush into something regrettable.

I suppose when we are relying on our own strength and struggling against the flesh, we are far more likely to act in dishonorable ways, sinning against God and man. Obviously, this simple acronym isn't the answer for all decision-making scenarios. And I could argue that when living through culture shock, it's nearly impossible. You're almost always operating on hunger, anger, loneliness, and exhaustion.

It's been five years in China, but we still experience culture shock. Whenever we're brought to stressful situations, all our frustrations are brought to the surface and our patience is worn thin. This does not make for very restful vacations. I wonder what it would be like to just sit and do nothing and be perfectly relaxed on the beach. Ha!

I feel the need to make a China version of HALT.

When living overseas, experiencing culture shock, trying to vacation in a densely populated city, caring for little kids, trying to be a good spouse, trying to be both a tourist and host, and all the while trying to do these things in temperatures exceeding 100 can be a recipe for disaster. If you are experiencing this type of family vacation--remember to give others extra doses of grace. Remember to HALT, but I suppose the China version would be:

Frustrated by cultural differences
Overwhelmed by in millions of people
Lost geographically, linguistically, culturally
Exposed to the elements (e.g. we were caught in a huge storm, and struggled against heat strokes)


uh. Fole doesn't make any sense. Scratch that.
But, if you are out and about in China, you will probably experience a semblance of FOLE.

I feel like the whole time we were in Beijing, we were walking up and down stairs, riding up and down escalators, and just walking, walking, walking. I was really tired of public transportation. Although subways are nice, I was so exhausted of the push and shove, the intense underground heat, and just the madness of public transit in Beijing. It is cheap, however. And fairly convenient. 

It was like we just went from one stair case to the next. Up and down and up and down. Over and over and over again. 

On Friday, we started the morning with being reunited with Adam! We quickly got ready, ate breakfast and got on the subway so that we could see the Forbidden City. The heat was insanely miserable. By the time we were through the first gate and buying tickets to enter, we had drank all of our water supply and were buying several more bottles of water. 

Willow was so desperate to be with her dad, she stood in the hot sun to buy tickets--though she could have stood in the shade with me. She didn't want to let Adam out of her sight. Here, Willow is proud of the tickets she helped purchase.

Noah looking lethargic from the heat. He drank a lot of water while we were out. At this point, we misplaced his sun hat, which we had only just procured. I was fairly disappointed, and Adam went out in a huff retracing our steps to look for it. Surely, it was snatched up by some other tourist since it was no where to be found. So sad.

Though Willow doesn't look 100% non-Asian, she is still photographed quite a lot by Chinese bystanders. Sometimes she has a whole posse of smart-phone wielding denizens following her around. This guy took several pictures of her while she sipped her water. Then his family tried to take a group picture with her. She ran away from that situation.

Trying to stay cool on this hot day. It was miserable. I can not think of another way to describe it. By the time we were 3/4 through the Forbidden City, we had met our max. Brad didn't want to see the remaining buildings, so we high tailed it out of there and then started the process of trying to get back to our hotel. We needed to cool off, to eat lunch, and to take naps. What an exhausting morning! The Forbidden City is a massive place, filled with so many tourists.

There were not may people near these doors because they were not the center entrances. There are usually three sets of entrances at each gate or building. The center door or entrance is always for the Emperor, and only the Emperor had access to it. He was only permitted to walk down the center of the palace--down a clearly marked path which still runs through Beijing (even through the Olympic stadiums). The sides were everyone else. I believe all the Chinese people walk through the center gates because it is quite a big deal to them. About a century ago, that would have been impossible for them to do, let alone visit the Imperial Palace. We were walking through the less populated side gates, though streams of thousands were walking through all the center gates. I just try to imagine what a symbolic and culturally significant tour they are on as Chinese citizens. It is now called the People's Palace.

Brad, remarking upon how difficult and time consuming it would have been to carve each of these railing sections out of stone.

The Emperor's bedroom

subway tunnel

Riding the subway. Brad snapped this picture on his iPhone. Everyone in the car was looking at us, sitting on the bench. Willow and Noah attracted all the kids that were in the train car, and soon there were three little kids sitting next to Willow. With the one child policy, children lose the benefit of sibling relationships. Thus, pretty much every child, whether friend or stranger, is considered your child's brother or sister. Just as everyone adult is your Uncle, Aunt, Grandma or Grandpa. Everytime we see a toddler or baby, we are expected to stop, say hello, shake hands, and say little pleasantries to our "small friends". Willow has to learn to call her chinese playmates, whether friend or stranger, big brother/big sister/little brother/little sister. 

Anyway, this has both advantages and disadvantages. I think it teaches Willow to have a strong sense of community and openness for making new friends. But if you are going somewhere in a hurry, it can be a time hindrance. It can also be awkward at times, but mostly the interactions are sweet. If the other children are naughty, I sometimes worry about negative examples being set--but then, my kids are not perfect either, so it goes both ways.

I think it's a lovely facet of Chinese culture, and I truly miss it when we're in America.

After swimming, naps, showers, etc...we went out for dinner at one of our favorite Beijing restaurants: Peter's! We ordered  burritos, enchiladas, tacos, guacamole, and sweet delicious! 

On our way back to our hotel, we ran into this interesting plaza that had a water show going on. The lights and fountains were choreographed to different musical selections that were blasted across the square. Many people were standing around watching the show, taking selfies and videos. Willow loved it. Noah hated it. The water occasionally hit our faces because of the breeze--and though Noah loves his bath time, he decidedly hates being splashed in the face with cold water.

Seriously, escalators and stairs everywhere. Can't even walk on the side walk without having to go up and down several times. Can you spy Adam? He's really good at taking the stroller down the escalator, backwards. If I spun the stroller around, while walking, while being pressed from every direction by crowds, I would surely fall down the escalator. But Adam is amazingly coordinated with things like this. Jealous.

We slept really well that night. Even the kids, who usually wake up at the crack of dawn, slept in until 9am the next morning. It was wondrous. 

No comments:

Post a Comment