We came. We saw. We got mobbed.
This just in…
Life has been busy lately. I have been running myself ragged with: mountains of papers to grade, social gatherings to host and attend (poor me!), a nose to blow continuously (a.k.a. I have had a death cold for 2 weeks), kids to clean and feed (pouring cereal into a bowl still counts as “feeding” in my book), ayis to fire (yes…it is true! More on that later), tears to shed over this (somebody hold me), boobs to pump….yadda, yadda, yadda.
So basically, life is proceeding at a very normal and hectic pace. I’m preaching to the choir, I know.
In the midst of all this busyness, we decided to venture off to Pingyao, China for a few days with our friends. Because we are kinda stupid like that. I mean why relax in your nice house when you can ride in a van with a stroller on your lap for 2 hours and be swarmed by very curious Chinese people?
For those of you who don’t know, Pingyao is a very old, walled-city that I am certain I could not find on a map if you paid me. It might be south of Beijing. It is possible that it is to the west. I am pretty sure it is not north. Anyway…it is somewhere. And we went.
Because I don’t really have time to write at length about it, I decided I would just share some photos of the adventure. And let it just be stated for the record, it WAS an adventure. Traveling with 2 newborn babies and 2 wild 3 ½ year old boys in China is not for the faint of heart. Again, good thing we are idiots because we did it anyways.
To get to Pingyao we had to take a mini-van to the train station. Go ahead and get it out of your head that this was a quick little jaunt in a comfy oversized van with well behaved children. It was not. It took about 2 hours to get to that train station and we were packed in there tighter than a hipster’s balls in a pair of skinny jeans (sorry mom. I had too.).
But it was all good because once we got to the station it was easy-peasey (said nobody ever if they have ever been to the Beijing West train station with 4 children and a truck load of shit).
Unfortunately I did not take any photos in the train station. I was too busy contemplating why Christmas music was playing in McDonald’s and trying to wrangle chicken nuggets into Beau’s mouth. Suffice it to say that A LOT of people live in China and about .0000001% of them were at Beijing West train station that day. Which strangely enough still amounts to more people than you have ever seen in one place at one time in your life! Unless of course you have been on a subway in Singapore at rush hour.
The train itself was actually pretty modern and clean. It would have been amazing had we actually had seats for everyone.
What? What’s that you say? Not enough seats? That is correct, sir.
Our Chinese friend, who booked the tickets, only booked 4 tickets. Naturally. As there were only 4 adults traveling and “kids don’t need tickets”, this made perfect sense to him. I mean if it is not required that you purchase tickets for your kids, why would you? You save 30 dollars and your kids just sit on your lap. For 4 hours. #culturaldifferences
Oh hell no. That shit might work for well-behaved, docile Chinese children, but for our children? Our children are monsters. They are squirmy, moody, bony and generally unpredictable. They need their own seat. And more importantly, I need my own seat.
Don’t worry…we worked it out. The dads found the “beverage car” and parked their bums there for the 4-hour journey; leaving each mama with a seat, but also a baby and a 3½-year-old. They said it was a sacrifice. I’m still not convinced.
Regardless, we arrived at our destination safe and sound and then piled into yet another mini-van for the 2-hour drive to Pingyao. Yeah. Another one.
By the time we rolled into our guesthouse in Pingyao, I’m pretty sure we were all questioning why we had voluntarily decided to do this. I’ll speak for myself but I know I was having multiple conversations with Jesus during that last van ride. They went something like this, “Hey Jes (pronounced ‘geez’)! I know I probably do and say a lot of things that piss you off and I’m not really all that religious but if you could just zap me home and directly into my bed, I will tone down the cursing and would consider the idea of going to church. But leave the kids here with Brado. If you zap the kids too, all bets are off, Jes!”
Spoiler Alert: I was not zapped home.
Despite the long, arduous journey (that makes traveling by covered wagon while being chased by an Ebola-infected buffalo look totally freaking enjoyable) we ended up having an excellent time.
Here is the pictorial recap:
Our guesthouse was really cool. It was an old hutong style building with lots of courtyards and a maze-like feel.
Partly due to a little rain and partly due to a lot of laziness, we spent a lot of time just kicking it in our guesthouse restaurant. I think I averaged 3 lattes a day...it was awesome. Plus, it is super fun to be lazy when you are kickin' it with this little love.
In other news...do you remember the show 'My Two Dads'?
After latte number 3, we set out to explore the sights and sounds of Pingyao. There were cool little streets, lots of shopping, street performers, parades and plenty of old men sitting on chairs.
And while we loved walking through the streets, it proved to be pretty difficult on that first day. Everywhere we went we were literally mobbed by Chinese people. They all wanted to hold and take pictures of the kids. I genuinely think many of these folks had never seen a blond, blue eyed baby in their entire life. Maybe not even a white baby. It was that amazing to them.
It was all kinda funny at first but soon got very old. Seriously, it is the closest I have ever come to feeling famous and I can now officially confirm that it sucks.
We sought refuge in a cool little park that was off the beaten path. They boys climbed rocks. Babies were fed. Chinese exercise machines were utilized. I mostly wandered around and tried to take photos of the locals who, funnily enough, asked me not to take pictures of them. Seriously? The irony.
After all the excitement of the day we settled into a local restaurant for a nice meal of the element fries pingyao to clutch the piece. As you do.
Would you believe me if I told you that other side of the menu was even funnier and more random?
And then we ran into these girls:
Really? What do you have against summer? This is your cause? Oh dear.
My favorite part about the trip was just walking around and snapping photos. There are so many layers and textures to China. Little, nothing things are really interesting…like dirty mops hanging on a wall.
My other favorite part was walking though the town at night. The streets were lined with lanterns, the building were all lit up and it really was so beautiful.
So thanks Pingyao for a wonderful and amazingly tiring weekend! Now that I am home I can honestly say that I had a fantastic time. I might even go back. That is, if Jesus is willing to pull a few strings and zap me there.