Before we discuss my parents' first full day in China, we have to mention a few significant things:
1) they brought us 57 pounds (an entire suitcase plus 50% of a carry-on) of cookies, candy, and food, including the legendary Segal Coffee Cake, courtesy of Cousin Joe. See pic below.
2) In the 2 hours since their arrival, we had been ripped off by a taxi driver, harassed in the subway by a drunk man (weeeeellcome 2 chiiiiiiiiina), and been forced to lie to the police to get their passes. We recovered from this less than stellar first impression by walking around WangFuJing street (with the scorpions on the stick) and sleeping.
On their first full day, we went to the Summer Palace. After 4 months of no precipitation--causing a severe drought in northeastern China that will result in skyrocketing grain prices around the world next year (according to the news here)--the Chinese government took matters into its own hands and launched 68,000 rockets filled with chemicals that pull moisture from clouds. In other words, the government made it snow. No joke.
The result was a winter wonderland, with snow-covered lanternsas well as snow-covered boats frozen in a little river area.
We climbed up this enormous hill, which was pretty treacherous as it was snowing and covered in ice. To lighten the mood, I decided I wasn't too old to pull the classic pull-down-a-tree-branch-so-it-dumps-snow-on-the-person-behind-you trick, and my poor dad suffered the brunt of the joke. But I'm so nice, I got the snow out of his jacket for him:
Look at that s%&t-eating grin on my face ;) When we finally got to the top, it was so worth it: look at how beautiful the temple is with the snow-covered trees!
On the way down, I made my mom and dad take a picture near a stairwell...
...and my dad said something snarky about me taking pictures in weird places. Well, karma's a bitch, my friends, and within 5 minutes the "weird staircase" had its revenge, and he wiped out right at this very spot:
He actually looked like the red figure on the cone! Fortunately, there were no broken hips.
When we got to the bottom, the view was spectacular of the temple where we had just been:
Here's the obligatory group picture--I love it because we all look so great!! The background may be white, but it's from snow and NOT pollution, which was also a special treat. (Foreshadowing: that red cylinder in my dad's backpack is in fact a kite he brought to fly in Tiananmen Square in homage to his mother. The kite was an American flag...and that's all I will say about it right now.)
There is a huge lake in the Summer Palace where people go boating and fishing in the summer, and apparently walk on in winter. On one corner is the famous marble boat.
The Empress Dowager Cixi received a vast sum of money to strengthen the Chinese navy against the constant threat of Japanese invasion by sea. After receiving the moolah, she instead commissioned this boat for her palace in homage to the navy...which was promptly and soundly defeated in battle. Whoopsie.
By now, you're thinking, wow what a normal day and place, right? Well, we're still in China, so there's still some funky stuff going on...like, questionably fashionable winter gear,
or how they get rid of snow by putting it into bamboo buckets and dragging it to the lakewhere they use a tarp to hurl it over the edge:
We also had a DIC (Dude, It's China!) moment while we were walking down the Long Corridor near the lake. After trying to figure out how people got on the ice, we stumbled upon this man looking like he was about to plunge to his death via slushy water.Miraculously, his foot didn't go through the ice, and he quickly had his friend throw him his child from the ledge.Crazy. By this time we were getting cold and wanted to leave the hilly, icy, but beautiful palace. We took a long subway ride from there to a walk through of the Olympic stadium, etc, before going to dinner with Dr. Qiao, Dr. Zhao, Shangying, Hao, and Wangshaoming at the acrobat show. It was really fun! My mom was selected to go on stage and dance the Chinese horah...(look how excited she is! hahaha. Side note, my mom has the most expressive face ever that basically writes out her thoughts, which was so entertaining all trip to watch her reactions to things)...and I played a dice game that won us two bottles of nice beer. But after dinner, we had to stop at Dairy Queen by our apartment because the food was so spicy our mouths were somehow still on fire/numb an hour after we left.
What a great first day!
PS I added the pic below of my parents just because I thought they look great and would be happy we included it ;)