Thus far, we are about two days into our adventures in Beijing, China. While we still have a lot of traveling to experience, we have already learned many important things…
- First Class really is all that it’s cracked up to be, at least on long international flights–Yep, and it was a good idea to let the Delta flight crew know that we were on Gianna’s Make-a-Wish trip. I thought we might get a little announcement over the loud speaker, but instead, we ALL got upgraded to first class! It started with just Gianna and myself, then she gave her puppy-dog eyes to the head flight attendant, who let her bring up Luck as well. After we had been up there a couple of hours, I asked if I might be able to swap out with my wife, who was left back in the cheap seats, to give her a little first class experience, and instead, the flight crew snuck Gigi, Giacomo, and Isadora up to join us! We were pampered the entire flight with all the extras, plus a plethora of snacks and goodies to take with us on our travels, topped off with a trip to the cockpit for all the kids! Seriously, how will we ever fly coach again???
- The subway system is undoubtedly the best form of transportation—And everyone in Beijing seems to think so as well. It is fast. It is packed. It’s got the world’s longest escalators. It is also seems to be incredibly safe, with security checkpoints, and volunteers around to help lost-looking tourists like myself be sure to exit out the correct side of the street, which is key, as you can easily walk for blocks in Beijing without a crosswalk, so it behooves you to be on the proper side, lest you walk a very long way in the wrong direction.
- The rickshaw is a close second–Alright, maybe it’s not the second best form of transportation, but it it a heck of a lot of fun to wind though narrow streets and check out the combination of homes that have clearly been there for centuries, hidden landmarks, and multitude of people selling tasty treats and soon-to-be souvenirs.
- It’s important to make an honest living–This goes for everyone, including street vendors, who will scatter like mice when the police show up the check if they have permits, This whole rigamarole may be a little terrifying to the kids (okay, maybe to us adults too,) but it was very short-lived, but thankfully wasn’t crazy enough to knock anyone’s sugar-coated-fruity balls on a stick out of their hands and onto the ground. And I don’t feel that my children will ever do anything illegally after witnessing it.
- A little attempt at communication (combined with puzzle skills) goes a long way–We are all working on our key phrases and words, and yet again, I am blown away by the kids’ ability to retain the information. I, on the other hand, am relying on my iTranslate app, our Chinese language book (thanks to Terri from Make-a-Wish,) some good puzzle skills, as I played “match the subway stop characters,” all while working super hard to not speak Spanish to everyone, which is my default “you’re not speaking English so I’m speaking the only other foreign language I know” thing.
Overall, things are going really well and these kids are incredible troopers, walking a ton in the heat without complaining, and trying new foods, as they discover that we were right and Chinese food is definitely different here than at the Chinese buffet back home! Next up: The Forbidden City, Tian`anmen Square, The Summer Palace, and The Temple of Heaven tour tomorrow!