I can’t say that Sam and I both love to travel. He’s more of the stay-at-home type. I’m more of the adventurous type who could afford to get lost in the middle of nowhere. Since we got married, well, now he doesn’t really have a choice but get lost with me (chuckle). On our first year as a married couple, in December 2010, my parents treated us with a trip to Beijing (it might have been a strategy for us to give them a grandchild, but nope, it didn’t work). Three months before that trip, I fell down the hospital stairs after my morning rounds and well, broke my ankle. I was in a cast for 3 months. They finally took the cast out a week before the Beijing trip. Great timing for a fall, one might say.
*just look at that expression on his face
Anyway, this trip was exciting for me because it was Sam’s first time outside the country and I couldn’t wait to see that usual child-like, excited expression that becomes plastered on his face everytime he’s into something new Well, true enough, he was so much excited that he took off his jacket at the arrival area in the airport, just to experience how cold it really was. And it really was! It wasn’t cold actually, it was freezing at -5’C. He couldn’t stop talking about how frozen his toes were when we stepped out into the cold night.
Anyway, so here are the things that made that trip memorable:
1. We had a FREE 5-day tour of Beijing and its sights. Yup, you read that right, it was free, more like unexpectedly free. It was an unexpected gift from my dad’s boss. And it included our own private english-speaking tourguide (named Nina), transportation and lauriat food!
2. It made me hate cold all the more. It made my aching ankle hurt more. As usual, Sam loved it! I remember we had to wear 3 layers of socks just to keep our feet warm.
3. Naturally, since my ankle was still healing, it was very painful out in the cold, much more when we had to walk miles just to get around the palaces! So, Sam had to carry me on his back a lot of times while we walked through gardens, museums, palaces, practically everywhere. Sometimes breaking your ankle has its perks. 😀 Oh, and did I mention we had priority boarding status on the plane and that I was on a wheelchair the whole time at both the Philippine and Chinese Airports?
4. I learned that we couldn’t eat chinese food for more than 7 days in a row. After the 3rd day of eating chinese lauriat food, we just couldn’t take it anymore, so our tourguide brought us somewhere to eat pizza buffet. Even the smell of Chinese food was intolerable already.
5. When eating, always do a taste test. Eat a little piece before eating a whole spoonful. This is especially helpful when the server places a plate of jiggly chocolate jello on the table, and you think it was desert, and when you eat a whole spoonful, it turned out to be steamed pork fat. So much for chocolate jello.
6. You know that chinese translation/ speaking app? Well, it helped us a lot, well, maybe just a little. We learned that one word could mean a lot of things, depending on how you pronounce it. Like when we asked for cold water, for example, we got an empty glass. And when we repeated it, the waitress gave us a table napkin.
7. By the way, restrooms aren’t restrooms, they’re called WCs- as in Water Closets. And some of them have cubicles that don’t have doors. So imagine squatting on the floor to pee and facing the sinks and the mirror, with people coming in and out of the restroom.
8. You know those automatic hand dryers in restrooms? You would appreciate them more in extremely cold weather. We were always on the look out for WCs- not because we felt like peeing, but because we wanted to warm our freezing hands under the hand dryer.
Ten days in Beijing was quite an experience. The place has so much history that even the trees tell you stories. Thanks to our tourguide, she had me really interested in listening to her stories and the history that China bears. We may not have a chance to go back to China, but I will always remember that adventure. How could I not when Sam carried me on is back most of the time?
*did we lose some pounds just climbing up the Great Wall?