(Pictures of the Hutong tour and the Summer Palace)
It is 6:30pm and Mom and Dad are napping after a full day of touring. First we hit the Summer Palace where the emporer would go from April to October every year. This was built in the Qing dynasty. The day was very cool and rained some but not enough to really matter. During the Boxer Rebellion or at least toward the end of it the Dowager Emporess Cixi, lived there and escaped the allied forces from there. Before leaving the palace she convincedher son's favorite concubine, Pearl concubine, to jump down a well and kill herself rather than be captured by the American/English/German forces who had already reached Beijing. She didn't like the Pearl Concubine anyway but after the death the concubine became a famous hero.
After the Summer Palace the group went to lunch at Friendship Restaurant to have a traditional meal. Basically everyone sat around one table and there was like a very large lazy susan in the middle. Lots of dishes were brought out like egg drop soup, sesame seed fish, beef, chicken and pork dishes and watermelon for dessert.
Then Mom, Dad and I broke away from the group to go on the Hutong tour. Hutong means originally well alley or well road. It is a mongolian word that refers to the homes built around the wells. Now it means small alleyway measuring about 6 steps. The walls surround family compounds for the wealthy Beijingers of old (Pre-communism). After/during the Cultural Revolution many of the hutongs were destroyed.
We were allowed to visit with one of the residences, Mrs. Lao. Her husband raises champion homing pidgeons. His family has been in the same hutong compound for 6 generations. It is still totally occupied by family but more like separate apartments rather than a large family compound. I posted some pictures in the Beijing folder under photos.
Thanks for following the journey, Beverly
I was and still am pretty amazed at the ease with which my parents traveled. I am such a control freak type A personality that I was extremely worried about them. I shouldn't have been. Mom was not adventurous with food and dad was. We had little problem finding our way around and actually enjoying our time together. They had never been out of the country unless you count Canada Niagra falls even.