Friday, December 28, 2012

China Winter Tour - December 26

Robin Reif - December 26
First stop: Temple of Heaven Park. 14 degrees outside, but locals act like it’s Spring. Under frozen trees, they’re ballroom dancing, playing cards and mahjong, gambling, gossiping with friends. Apparently, Chinese women retire by 50 and men by 55 to make room the young, which helps explain the crowds on a frigid weekday. Whatever they’re wearing to keep warm, we want some of that. Bitterly cold, we still join in Tai Chi, then continue to the Hall of Prayer, an ornate circular structure where Ming Dynasty emperors prayed for a good harvest.
On to hutong area where a parade of red rickshaws, parked near the edge of a frozen lake, take us down narrow alleys to local homes for lunch. A remnant of Old Beijing, these grey painted flats hugging central courtyards are the new hot area for Party Officials and celebrities.
Our host, a feisty, enterprising lady, serves a sensational meal then ushers us into her paper-cutting studio across the courtyard where her work is for sale ensuring her hospitality is generously repaid before we leave.
Happiness Group at CCCWA
Panda Group at CCCWA
Later at the Beijing office of the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption, we get a glimpse of our “holy of holies”--the famous Matching Room. Standing at the door with our children, we look around at the spot that changed our lives for the good and forever.

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