26 May 2012

Youngcare Team China Group Photo Through Beijing

"Group photo," I shout, jutting my arms outward to indicate where, exactly, the group needs to stand. These eleven fundraisers line up, smack on their cheesiest grins, and have their photo snapped yet again in front of another of Beijing's expansive historic sites. It is an exercise we will repeat numerous times over the next nine days and one that, despite the minor whinging, the group actually enjoys. Especially when I ask them to jump!


Af a leisurely morning exploring the maze of local Hutong neighborhoods that surround our tucked-away hotel, we hopped on the bus with Mr. Lee, Jessi, and Alan en route for Tian'anmen Square. Nearly 1 square kilometer, Tian'anmen can hold more than 500,000 people! That is the population of Perth. It's immensity was staggering as was the incredible interest in taking photos with our very own Leanne. She seems to be this group's "diva" and none of us really think she minds.


It was then onward to the Temple of Heaven, whose temples are once again hidden deep within protective outer walls and extensive gardens that stretch in every direction. Beyond the spectacular temples, what really makes the Temple of Heaven so brilliant is the throngs of locals who make wonderful use of all the space. In one area a large group of men and women sing Chinese classics. In another, two men lean in closely as their game of Chinese chess heats up. They slam the pawns down on the table as their respective posses, formed into a packed semi-circle, offer never ending advice and moral support. Further along the path a group of women knit together while, nearby, couples practice waltzing - the most elegant activity the Chinese take part in. It is an eclectic, eye-opening view into real people and always a highlight of our trip.


From here we moved on to dinner, diving into two very hot pots of classic Sichuan cuisine. This do-it-yourself dinner is always highly enjoyable. Ths time it was magnified by our surprising Bronwyn with a birthday girl crown, giant cake, and GIANT knife with which to cut the cake. Is there any better way to ring in the big 2-5 (I was told to say that)?


We finished the day with a spectacular acrobatics show that had us pinned to our seats in mutual anticipation and fear. My goodness, some of tha acts they take on are stressful even to watch much less perform!


Thankfully, we made it safe and sound back to the hotel with all 11 participants intact. Why thankfully? Because we may have accidentally left Judy at the restaurant and completely forgotten her for, oh, 10 minutes or so. It was definitely Bronwyn's fault. Definitely. Wait, she is the birthday girl. Okay, it was definitely Leanne's fault. Definitely. It's off to bed now as we have a very big day ahead of us tomorrow.




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