April 6, 2009
Today is Monday, Qing Ming, a traditional Chinese festival that became a national holiday in 2008. “Tomb sweeping” is the most important aspect of Qing Ming. People take flowers , fruit, wine or other items to the graves of deceased family members. Qing Ming means clear and bright. It is also a celebration of Spring’s arrival. Rob and the children were off of work and school and everyone was ready to get out of River Garden and go on a family adventure. We decided to go to Beijing’s aquarium, The Blue Zoo.
We managed to do a quick clean-up around the house and still be in the van around 10:00. We stopped at the little strip mall around the corner. I ran into Jenny Lou’s to buy water, bananas and pretzel bread and Rob took orders for what we call egg sandwiches made by the local vendors with their hot plates on carts on the back of their rusty bikes. Spicy or not spicy. Our second breakfast. We started into town.
Spring has arrived. All throughout the countryside and city there are white tulip trees and mauve tulip trees, soft pink cherry blossoms, and bright yellow forsythia, and lime green, tender and new leaves on branches. Even the sun is yellow today! If we don’t have rain soon the sky will turn light brown with Gobi desert dust, but for today we were happy to see these signs of Spring back dropped by a bright blue sky.
We didn’t check out the price of the aquarium before we left so we were a little nervous, but it wasn’t too bad. The cost was 75 yuan for adults and 50 yuan for children, kids under one meter were free. Our oldest, Sam, just qualified as a child. His twelfth birthday is a few weeks away. Caitlin, Grant, and William were free.
The aquarium was nicely arranged and housed the usual favorites…big sea turtles, sea horses, exotic, colorful poisonous fish. The kids’ favorite thing was the walkalator that we rode through a glass tunnel as sharks and eels and tuna swam overhead. We made it to the end more quickly than expected, but the kids were happy to go through again. It was fun to see the Chinese tour group of old men in matching hats file in around lunchtime. We left the main building and walked up some steep stairs to an older section that housed a seashell collection and a tank of fish that will come and nibble on your fingers…a crowd pleaser.
For lunch we had promised Kro’s Nest pizza, a favorite among Beijing ex-pats. The kids love the western atmosphere and the man flipping the dough almost to the ceiling…they swear, and the pepperoni, not salami, and the pizzas as wide around as your arms. The always beg us for root beer and we always say, “Not in China, it would cost more than the pizza.” Overall, the day was a success…a few tantrums here and there but most of the time we were happy and cooperative. What a blessing!