Sunday, August 23, 2009

I just don't know where to begin

So how about with Beijing, which was where our holiday did in fact begin....albeit not without an anxious 'We are going to get sent back' moment.

The Chinese are taking no risks with swine flu. Upon our arrival at the airport all staff were wearing face masks. We had to walk through sensors which took our temperatures automatically. Imagine our alarm when my daughter and another girl travelling with us were then immediately hauled into a medical check area for further investigations. Thankfully both of them passed the subsequent checks and we were allowed to enter The People's Republic of China. And thus began a truly sensational twelve days.

Whilst in Beijing itself (or Peking if you are from Southern China)we visited the Summer Palace; a family living in the Hutong which are some of the typical housing areas of which the majority have been demolished to make way for the skyscrapers that now constitute most of Beijing; The Forbidden Palace,The Temple of Heaven and various restaurants and markets.

The most surreal moments occurred in a park adjacent to the Forbidden City. We saw a middle aged Chinese woman dancing to music by a traditional Chinese band. We stopped and applauded her. This prompted three other women to join her and commence dancing to some Chinese tune, whilst urging us to join them. I threw dignity to the wind and joined in, as did my eldest, and after a while the remaining teenagers in our party. We made it through the dance and thought that was enough - a large crowd having already gathered to laugh at the Westerners attempts at Chinese dance styles. But no - the band then broke into (and this was somewhat incongruous) 'Jingle Bells', and followed this up very swiftly, and before we had time to make our escape,with ' I Come from Alabama with a Banjo on my Knee.' We were finally allowed to leave after participating in a Chinese folk song in which we got the hang of the chorus which consisted of shouting the word 'Hoy!' very loudly. Apparently the song translated to say that if you smile every day you will look ten years younger. We certainly made lots of Chinese people smile that day.

Have so much to say about this incredibly wonderful country that I have no doubt I will bore the arse of anyone who still pops by this place - but please stick with me over the next few weeks - I really do have a wealth of wonderful stories to share.


Gill said...

Wish I'd seen that dance and I love the idea of a song that tells you to smile every day to look 10 years younger. Who needs botox?

J.J said...

I fear video footage may exist Gill! And yes, it was a great song!