Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Museums Revisited

We retraced our steps back to the museums that we missed the previous day, walking about as much today but being much more productive. The Ancient Observatory contained old relics from the 12th century, reminding us of China's long history in science and technology. In contrast, the Beijing Museum was a gleaming new building filled with art, history, and cultural displays. Entrance was free but registration was required. "Do you have a registration card?" she asked. "No? How about ID, passport?" Still no, but she needed a number to let us in, and settled for Robert's health insurance card number and my United Mileage Plus membership number, which we entered carefully in the blank labeled "number" next to our Chinese names!

How far China has come compared to the early bilingual signs and rudimentary displays of a decade ago! I was truly impressed and encouraged to see the large groups of schoolchildren and families. Throughout the trip, I was often struck by the care and attention being given to children by their parents. I observed patient and thoughtful conversations between mothers and their children, loving care by grandparents, and well behaved groups of young people off from school for the summer. Education is of the utmost importance and something right is happening in the raising of young people in this vast country. I met bright, hard working, and eager college students, full of hopes, dreams, and vitality.

After another full meal, we came out of the restaurant to see thunder, lightning and pouring rain. This time we had umbrellas but no taxis to be found. The few drivers parked in the lot shook their heads at us through their foggy windows. We finally snagged a cab after the rains cleared and this very vocal driver gave us a piece of his mind as he whipped through the streets of Beijing. No way was he driving in the pouring rain when he can't see through the windshield. He can't afford insurance and it is not worth the risk. People don't get out of the car when it is pouring. People don't understand why he refuses to pick them up. He'd rather sit there all night than drive in those conditions..... Moral of the night - don't even try to get a taxi in the rain!


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