Beijing, Sunny – Max: 8; Min: 3; Avg: 5
We slept well and woke fairly early, around 6:30 am – no signs of jetlag. We ate a large breakfast and decided to head for the Temple of Heaven. Again it was sunny and cold, beautiful weather for a walk. As we walked along Jianguomenwai, people were out on the street washing (!) the sidewalks and fences. This was probably due to the forthcoming annual party convention. A large crowd had gathered outside a BMW showroom near the hotel, as BMW were launching their new sports car – which generated a lot of interest (a sign of the changes in China).
We took some of the side streets, and the change was almost immediate – the buildings became progressively less pompous – turning quickly into what we would consider as slums. New buildings were replacing the slums, but the slums remained, sometimes as part of the building site – with people living in them. These areas have small alleyways, communal toilets and small shops with public telephones hanging on the wall. I wonder where all these people move to once progress flattens their homes? We were a great source of attention – even though we were close to downtown Beijing and one of its main thoroughfares, we can’t imagine that many westerners venture into this area. Nobody approached us, and we certainly didn’t feel in any danger. As much as we’d have loved to film, we didn’t feel it was appropriate, so this will just remain a memory for us.
Down one of the streets, we found an exercise park; here the Chinese (and tourists) have the possibility to do many different exercises – we saw a number of these spread around Beijing, and not least Yanmei thought they were fun.
We walked past one of China’s central stations (east) – it was swarming with people – coming from or going back to the provinces. We felt as though everybody was staring at us – not least because we were pushing a little Chinese girl around. We continued walking and taking in the life on the streets, but realised that we couldn’t make it to the Temple of Heaven – as we had to be back by 13:00.
We stopped off at a new Department store; with lots of very, very expensive shops; but not a lot of people. We took a break at Starbucks (we don’t have Starbucks in Denmark so we’re excused!) and walked back towards the hotel. We were surprised by the number of traffic wardens that controlled each and every crossing – we didn’t feel more secure though, the Chinese drivers can still take right-hand turns whilst you’re walking over the street at a crossing. Our hotel across the road.
Back at the hotel, we ate the rest of the fruit, bread and cheese from the day before, and went to the introduction meeting with Christina, DanAdopt’s representative in Beijing. Helle, Claus and Melanie had just arrived with the flight from Copenhagen. Christina described the itinerary and the adoption procedures for the coming days in Hangzhou.
Afterwards we promised the girls that we’d take a swim in the hotel pool (i.e. the girls, Lene, Helle and Claus).
Whilst Lene and Yanmei relaxed before dinner, Steven went for a walk along Dongdaqiao to the Chinese Workers Stadium in Beijing. There wasn’t much to see. It turned dark and began to drizzle. On the way back, Steven saw a large French group with newly adopted babies – soon it would be our turn.
We ate dinner at the Chinese restaurant in the hotel – very mediocre. On the way back to the hotel, we bought cakes for dessert (it was a good deal as they were closing and sold them for half-price), saw some TV and had yet another fairly early night.