The first thing one must learn upon arriving in China is how to eat with chopsticks. Most locals assume that other nationalities have no clue how to use them, so it's actually a pretty common questions that we're asked. So first item on the agenda was to make dumplings for lunch (with the help of our amazing househelper, of course!)
We spent about four days in our city and showed off the best spots to my family--1000 Buddha Mountain, Big Light Lake (sounds a lot cooler in its original language), meat-on-a-stick alley. It might not be the prettiest city on the planet but it's home!
Then we flew out west to see the Terracotta Soldiers. Neither Kevin nor I had ever been before, and it was pretty impressive.
We celebrated my 27th birthday in Xi'an with no other than Moroccan food. Hmm...eating middle eastern food in a tourist city in China...in hindsight, maybe not the best idea. In fact, the hummus was nearly inedible but it was still better than rice for a change.
Then we took a flight back east to the capital. I can no longer count on one hand how many times I've made the tourist rounds in this city, but I've learned a helpful thing or two along the way so I was more than happy to play Tour Guide Barbie for my fam.
There was one day while we were in BJ where the skies were unbelievably blue. Like bluer than I think I've seen since we moved here almost two years ago. If you find your own appreciation of blue skies and puffy white clouds waning, I suggest you come spend a week with us. Then you'll understand why I spent more time taking pictures of the sky than anything else that day. Yes, I suppose the ancient, eastern architecture is impressive as well but did you check out the color of the sky?!?!
We took pedicab tours of the old neighborhoods, trekked around the Summer Palace. I forced my family to eat at more Western restaurants than they probably cared for (except my dad, who never really got the chopstick thing down). We climbed the Great Wall, haggled at the Silk Market, enjoyed each others company...what more could I have asked for?