Travelling around a city with over 21 million residents can have it's challenges. While walking down the street from our hotel in Beijing recently, we found alternatives to the usual cars and bicycles we normally see around the city.
No doubt these vehicles (except for the push-bike & cart) are handy and zippy for busy, city life. And of course great for parking in tight spots!
On one of our free days we decided to visit the Zoo. Our main interest was to see a panda or two.
What we didn't realise, was that the day we chose to go was a public holiday in China. So the zoo was rather busy with crowds of visitors .. and lots of children. Located on a large park full of grass and trees, there were animals you would normally expect to see at a zoo. Signs were everywhere requesting visitors not to feed the animals, but these were generally ignored.
We wandered around and looked at a few of the animals but really wanting to see the pandas, we joined the queues trying to crush through the doors into the panda enclosure. There were huge covered areas partitioned off, with glass viewing screens so that you could look down on the pandas habitat within. We didn't have a chance to get very close to the glass due to the crowd.
But for some reason, the pandas did not want to be seen on the day we visited. Paul took a photo of what we did see through the viewing glass ....
Yes, that is it! The one panda in the enclosure had decided to sleep under the viewing window. So, all we could see was a bit of white and black fur.
How the panda could sleep with all the noise from so many people is a mystery!
Walking through the back streets near the Wangfujing shopping area is a lot of fun. Along with the array of exotic foods for adventurous tourists to try, there are normal eateries as well as stall upon stall of trinkets for sale.
We wandered through one alleyway recently and saw a water fountain that had been overtaken by buildings and little stalls. Making our way past a couple of the stalls and negotiating the people traffic, we discovered a little street full of tables and surrounded by outdoor restaurants. As soon as we were seen, vendors started shouting and trying to encourage us to eat from their particular eatery.
At one of the restaurants was a young teenage boy with a rather loud voice that could speak a little bit of english. Allowing ourselves to be persuaded to eat from his parents restaurant, we were quickly seated with menus being shoved into our hands. Since it was almost lunchtime we decided to order and eat. Possible not a good choice as we found ourselves a bit of a tourist attraction ... especially by the chinese tour groups wandering through.
Shortly after our food arrived, the boy came back and put a small chinese tea tin in front of us. He spoke to us in Mandarin and we nodded, not really sure what he was saying and assuming the tin had toothpicks in for us to use at the end of the meal. After about 10 minutes the boy came back, and chatting to us (in Mandarin again) he opened the tin and emptied the contents onto the table for Paul to see.
The tin was full of coins from different countries. As Paul examined them, we realised the young man had been given coins from various tourists as they sat at his parents tables to eat. He was incredibly proud of all that he had collected, and was really keen for Paul to take a good look at each coin.
It was obvious he wanted us to add to his collection, but we had left our NZ currency back at the hotel. So we complimented him on his great collection and thanked him for showing us; paid for our meal and left.
Later that evening we returned - at first his mother thought we were back to eat, so we pointed to the boy to get his attention. Explaining that we are from New Zealand; Paul emptied some NZ and Hong Kong coins into the boys hands. At first he seemed surprised, but then he noticed the coins were foreign. His face lit up with delight and he almost squealed with glee! Quickly showing the coins to the customer he was serving (and his mum); he turned to thank us and seemed genuinely pleased but also surprised that we had returned just to give him the coins.
We nodded, smiled and waved goodbye. Then all of a sudden he yelled and came running towards us with a bottle of juice he'd taken out of his parents fridge ... a gift for us. As we left I turned around to sneak a look at the young man again and he was excitedly showing his mum and dad the new coins he had received ... with a large smile on his face.
We are back! After a fantastic couple of weeks travelling, visiting, chatting, hugging, praying, and eating lots of amazing asian food; we arrived back in Aotearoa on Wednesday.
Tired from our travels, we were looking forward to sharing our experiences with everyone. Our first priority was to take care of personal business (unpacking and washing!), then sort through photos to see what to share.
And then it happened ... yup; a couple of days after we landed we were both struck down with a nasty bug. Thankfully there was enough food in the house so we didn't have to venture out in the weekend's nasty storm.
Although we still haven't complete got rid of the 'bug', Paul went back to work yesterday and I started looking through the photo's. In the meantime we've decided to leave you a little teaser until we get ourselves sorted ....
I'm sure you'll spot the Kiwi in the picture, but can you guess what they are up to? Leave a comment if you think you know what's happening!
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Paul & Julie Averes are passionate about helping Orphans. They travel yearly to visit orphans and to assist and encourage those who care for orphans.