28 January 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011 - 5 comments

1/29/10 - The day I fell in love

1/29/10 - Experiencing the colors of China

It’s hard to explain our day today, hard only because it was so filled with color and writing in black and white seems to dull it a bit.  The colors of China are very dull right now, with it being the dead of winter here, at least in Beijing, everything is dormant and quiet if you will.  Looking out our hotel there is a park below us and there is only brown and gray, nothing to show life, but it is there.  Life that is.  You have to look for it though.  

Today we found a world of color though in our journeys!  We decided that our path today would begin at the Yonghegong Lama Temple also known as the Palace of Harmony and Peace.  We once again were looking for something off the beaten path and we put ourselves right in the middle of it!  The temple is a working Lamasery built in the 17th century originally for a prince who became Emperor Yongzheng and later it became a temple.  It is absolutely stunning.  There are colors everywhere.  

The air was filled with the scent of incense and smoke and the sound of a bell sounding and constant chanting.   We tried our hardest to slip into the crowd but we stuck out like flying pigs, we almost felt like we were intruding on something sacred.  Walking through the buildings and grounds we began to feel so peaceful and a calm just permeated us.  Jacob was in complete awe.  We made our way into the temple that held a buddha that was carved out of one sandalwood tree, a gift from the seventh Dali Lama to Emperor Qianlong in 1750, it’s size and beauty was incredible!  We were not allowed to take pictures inside but you didn’t really want to, to do so felt like you might break the beauty.

As we started to make our way out of the temple grounds we were drawn to the sound of chanting and stepped inside a hazy temple filled with monks in deep chant.  The room was filled with patrons surrounding them, some in prayer others in deep meditation.  We put ourselves up against a wall and just watched in complete wonder until our eyes dried out from the smoke and our spirits fulfilled.  It was a moment I don’t think any of us will ever forget experiencing.

The morning soon became afternoon and we found ourselves leaving the temple and making our way towards Ditan Park a mile or more away.  We walked through a community of hutongs, which are narrow alleys filled with traditional courtyard homes.  As much as we wanted to peek our heads inside, we didn’t.  Without a guide to translate and literally being stared at by everyone, we just moved forward and quietly said Ni hao to those who smiled at us.  The sights though were just beautiful, very much the China I have always thought.  Intense color and a warmth that is so intoxicating. 

After another life threatening street crossing, go check it out at Jacob’s blog, we made it to Ditan Park.  A beautiful park, like nothing I’ve ever seen before!  The park is one of the biggest areas in Beijing for celebrating the upcoming Chinese New Year and while there is not a single flower in the vast park, it is filled with red decorations hanging in almost all of the trees.  INTENSE BEAUTY!  In the next week the park will be filled with mass excitement and celebration. 

We slowly made our way to a sunny bench and enjoyed a snack and watched children with their grandparents or parents soaking up the sunshine and beauty.  Most of the children stared at us in wonder while others stopped and said their hellos.  Again we found ourselves just trying to blend into the bench and watch like a quiet mouse in a house.  

There were people everywhere exercising in one way or another, whether physically like jumping rope or in deep concentration doing Tai Chi.  There was no park equipment to play on, only the imagination of what you could do with what you come with.  We must have spent a good two hours walking through when finally did see what appeared to be a play structure and as we got closer we realized it was an outdoor gym of sorts.  People of all ages were riding bike, rowing, running or just getting a quick massage.  Soon we found ourselves joining in and getting a laugh or two in the process.  

Once we worked up a good sweat and an appetite we made our way out of the park back into the busy streets of Beijing and headed back to our hotel for an afternoon of naps, Pizza Hut and tea.  Tomorrow holds a busy day for us and the last day we spend as a family of three here in China.  We will wake at the crack of dawn which doesn’t seem to be a problem for us, and head to Tian’anmen Square, The Forbidden City and a trek up the Great Wall with our travel group.  We are really looking forward to meeting everyone and learning more about our daughters country.  In a mere 48 hours we will be holding our Jennifer......
Much love and joy,
Mike and Kayce 

Our adventure that day was my wanting.  We did what the boys wanted to do the day before and I said THIS is what we're doing today!  And again we were blessed with a beautiful clear day!  We could have gone with our guide to the Temple of Heaven and experienced a rickshaw tour and finished our night with the acrobat show but that's not the China I wanted to see.  I already knew we'd have plenty of "tour guide" days ahead of us and my sense of adventure is not one to sit in a bus and see the world that way.  I wanted to put myself in the middle of real life.  I didn't want a guide and I didn't want a million tourists around me.  I just wanted my daughters countrymen to show me the way.

I remember waking up that morning and realizing that I was no longer going to be able to spend a day doing this much longer without my daughter by my side.  And while I wanted the day to pass quickly, I also wanted to absorb each moment and cherish the day.  We did.  We had a fabulous day.  We laughed.  We cried.  We talked and talked and talked!  We walked and walked and walked.  We prayed together.  We held hands.  We shared a meal at the end of the day with others from our travel group and shared our anticipation and talked of the freezing cold.  

This was one of my most treasured days in China because it was that day that I fell in love with the country and somewhere in that park is a piece of my heart.  Someday I hope to go back there again with my daughter and find it.  


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Kayce...I'm almost holding back a sob here. How you bring China to life and memories of it came flooding back. I love following this journey of yours. Thank you for sharing it.

You really got me with "and somewhere in that park is a piece of my heart. Someday I hope to go back there again with my daughter and find it."


Absolutely beautiful! Off to read more and be drawn back to the China I too fell in love with!

When you wrote, "Intense color and a warmth that is so intoxicating."
I don't think another sentence could describe China better.
I am so happy that you love the country just as I do! A life changing experience on so many levels for many of us!


Gosh a blink of an eye and a year has gone by....you capture moment's and memories like I have never seen...beutiful post's as usual Kayce. Your words and recollections will be priceless to little Jen someday.