What a difference a day makes! Today was cold and very rainy - we froze! The sad thing was we had warmer clothes in the room but we did not realize how cold it really was outside. But, even with the rain, it was still crowded on our tour. We started at Tienanmen square, walked through the Forbidden City and went on a tour in the Hutong. Tienanmen Square was really busy - most people were waiting in this huge line to go to see Mao's tomb. The masses of people and all the umbrellas was quite the sight! And the walking vendors were right in our faces all the time trying to sell us umbrellas and ponchos. I was very tempted to buy Lily a Panda hat but I resisted for now. I don't know how long I will be able to resist though - they are cute! Next, we followed more masses to the Forbidden City. They have renovated parts of it and it looks very colorful and shiny now. I forgot how many walls and entrances there are! As Americans, we got lots of stares! People would try to take pictures and video tape us secretively but usually one of us would notice. Some in our group even got asked to take their picture with a Chinese family. It was pretty funny! Last we went on a Hutong tour. The Hutong are communities originally built around water wells when the Mongols were in power. They are really old and look like the poor section of the city but is actually really expensive to buy a house there. I think many people are relatives of those who originally owned the courtyards and houses and they have been passed down. We visited a local family and her family has owned it since the before Cultural Revolution (some dynasty but I can't remember). To get around the Hutong we rode in a rickashaw - quite the experience being on the back of a bike - they like to fit us in tiny spaces! We were still frozen when we got to the hotel so I was glad I brought hot cocoa.
I was having trouble with emailing pictures to the blog so I decided to just put some on flickr. It shows them uploaded but I can't see them for some reason. China likes to block things to who knows! Someone email me if they are not there. I can't read blog comments so you have to email us. Someone in our group found out how to get around all the blocks but I don't have the energy to deal with it.
Tomorrow we fly to Inner Mongolia and meet Lily! Think of us if you are up in the middle of the night!