I am very happy to report that TM did recover. Since I was at a point where I was doing no good what so ever, J. sent me out with the girls to walk around. We happened upon the market stalls with all the tourist kitsch, which was good because I needed to get a couple more gifts. Evidently, being all out of patience and in a cr*ppy mood puts one in a perfect state for bartering with stall owners. Normally, I am the world's worst barterer; I'm too worried about making sure someone is happy and that they like me. This morning, I really didn't care and if the price was too high would happily drop the object and walk away. This, it seems is the perfect tactic for getting a good price. At one point, I was looking at a watch that was nearly exactly like one A. bought when we had the guide with us in Guangzhou, so I knew what a fair price was. When the seller quoted me a price four times as high, I actually laughed at him. I got it for about the same price that A. bought hers.
The shopping excursion was not without it's own difficulties. No doubt a little wigged out by her brother's behavior, H. decided to act out a bit as well. Part of it was just language difficulties. I couldn't explain to her that I had bought her things before and would buy her things again, but that I wasn't buying anything for her this time. At one stall she picked up a small item, which even on a good day I wouldn't have purchased, and made it very clear that she wanted it. I said no and put it back. She picked it back up. I put it back. H. pinches A. in retaliation. I move H. away from A. Shop keeper tells me that she will give a good deal on it. (And it was a good deal, less than a dollar US.) But I was able to communicate with the shop keeper that since H. is now pitching quite the whiny fit, I can't buy it for her now. It was an accomplishment since I speak no Mandarin and the shop keeper spoke very little English. But she understood and stopped trying to sell me the item in question. H. is very clearly unhappy with me at this point as we head back to the hotel.
I hold my breath on the way back having no idea what will be waiting for us when we arrive, all while keeping a firm grip on H.'s hand who has decided she does not want to walk. I cannot tell you how relieved I was to discover a calm, coherent boy sitting on the bed eating peanuts. (Protein is very, very good.) While all this drama has been occurring, our guide arrives to take us on our tour of Beijing. J. asks him to come back an hour and half later, which he graciously does. J. and I are also throwing items into suitcases while all of this is going on because we have to check out when we leave with the guide.
Since life looks as though it will continue to go on, we leave to tour Beijing with our guide. It is a whirlwind tour. We drove by Tienanmen Square. It is very large.
Then we went to the Forbidden City. You probably won't be surprised when I tell you that it involved quite a few stairs. I think it was worth it for views such as this.
Here we all are sitting on said stairs. (We're way down at the bottom so our guide could get the building in the picture, too.)
And a view to where we climbed.
After a couple of other stops in the Forbidden City, we did a quick pass by the Temple of Heaven.
After this super fast city tour, we had lunch with our guide and driver and then it was time to head to Shepherd's Field Children's Village. The ride out was uneventful and after a couple of stops for our driver to ask directions we made it. It's a good thing I knew what it looked like because the driver couldn't locate it even when we were right outside the gates.
The children were all in their houses but we were met by some of the volunteers and staff and shown to our room. We then joined some of them at a local BBQ restaurant for dinner. It was one of the best meals we had and a wonderful way to end our trip. The BBQ restaurant served lamb skewers which were spicy and very good. We also grilled hot peppers, grilled spicy bread. shredded potato salad, and a cucumber salad. Good food and good company. TM particularly liked the skewers and ate probably 20 skewers all by himself.
A much better ending to a day which started very badly.