-Paperwork for shipment is almost done--lots of delays!
-Matt has three interviews this next week--all very different jobs but dealing with education in some way.
-Matt gets back Saturday morning at 1am. (He's been on a spring trip with the 10th graders. They are biking/hiking/climbing. We'll see if he can walk when he gets back!!) This has been THE LONGEST WEEK OF MY LIFE! I have a new respect for my mother that kept us quite often by herself :)
-Less than three weeks and we'll be on our way to the States!!
-Ana has two major field trips this week and has been waking up with the sun at 4:30--hope she can sleep in on Saturday!!
-I've been scrubbing windows, floors, and cabinets for lack of anything better to do--the flat will be clean for the next person!
-I ordered some Chinese prints/paintings/paper cuttings for our home and they came yesterday. Love them. I'm so glad we can take a small part of our life in Asia with us.
The compound for the Temple of Heaven is massive. We rented a informational player and it said it was 10 times the size Tienanmen Square. It has lots of big gates, very old cypress tress (pictured one was supposed to be 500 years old!)
There were smaller Temples that served different purposes, but were just as ornate. The line on the sidewalk here was for God. Not even the emperor was allowed to step on it as he walked to the main temple.
The top picture was the place of sacrifice. It was basically a set of rings and at the top would have been the altar--no longer there. There was lots of greenery and people doing very interesting things from playing kicking games, to practicing their skills with a whip, to doing calligraphy with water to dancing to 50's music to fan dances with traditional music. The Temple of Heaven had it all. I wish we could have had a whole day for each of these places. There is so much to see it's worth it!
Lions traditionally were mythological creatures. They were put in front of entrances as it was believed they had the power to ward off evil spirits. They were almost always in pairs (male and female). You can also tell what dynasty it was from by the decoration and how big the muscles are.
It seems they were usually carved out of stone, but there were also metal examples.
I loved this one carved out of coral in the "Treasure" section of the Forbidden City."
This one is my personal favorite. He looks so happy... until you notice that he's holding a squealing little lion under his sharply clawed paw. I guess nobody really ever wanted a friendly lion guarding their gate.
On Saturday morning--early--we headed for the Temple of Heaven. Our hotel wasn't too far away, so we walked. The big problem--The grounds are enormous and surrounding them is a large wall. There are only four gates to get in--so it takes some effort just to make it inside!
The temple was constructed in 1420 and was used by the emperors to offer sacrifice and offerings to the One True God in order to receive blessings on the country's crops. Of course, practices changed with different emperors, but there are arguments that these offerings/sacrifices mirrored Jewish practices.
The main temple is a work of art. No nails were used and it is extremely ornate. It underwent some serious renovation in the early 1900s, but I'm sure the beautiful paintings on the exterior have to be redone frequently. The sun and dust filled wind could fade/strip the paint fairly quickly.
Again, I was amazed at the level of detail in the painting, stonework, and ceramics. Even the roof tiles were beautiful. I've been in breathtaking cathedrals in South America, intricate Hindu temples in India, and stunning Wats in Thailand. It is amazing how much effort men put into honoring their gods/God. What is sad about this building is that it is no longer in use--just an amazing relic of the past.
We enjoyed exploring all the Chinese food in Beijing. We ate at the base of the Great Wall--"country food" as the tour guide described it. Lots of oil and fried foods. The even batter dipped tree leaves and fried them. I especially liked the green beans.
For breakfast we ate at the end of our little street. This lady had fresh, steamed baoxi (bread with filling), jiaoxi (dumplings), porridge with fried bread dough, and fresh soy milk. All that for about 4 US dollars. I really enjoyed having such a delicious, inexpensive option. Plus, it filled up even our two bottomless pits!
We tried the candied fruit (and had the whole street watching us!!) It was very good, but really sweet. Basically it is a hard sugar coating over strawberries. At least we avoided McDonald's ice cream for that night!
I loved this horse seen on an add in the subway. (It will probably get printed and put in Ana's room!) This chalkboard wall would be fun in a kids bedroom using their favorite foods, activities, etc.
The mirror and sink in our bathroom was my favorite! For the mirror all you would have to do is paint it and add the Chinese corners. The sink was a bowl placed on top of a Chinese cabinet. Should be easy to DIY--provided you can find a bowl! If only we had more suitcases I would buy one here!!