Snow Balls and Car Seats

Oh dear. Falling behind. This is from yesterday – Wed, Mar. 20th..

Woke up to a snow covered Beijing this morning!! Couldn’t believe it. We bundled up for our outing to Tianeman Square and the Forbidden City. Katie had a lovely morning but her tummy is still upset. I have been fighting a cold and although I slept pretty well, I didn’t feel great.
We rode through a very modern part of Beijing that reminded me of New York. Sort of Madison Avenue. Many surprisingly huge buildings. There were tons of tourists (many Chinese) at the site. The sun was shining and Katie was bundled in her stroller with a couple more layers than yesterday and a really ugly blanket that the hotel had given us in an effort to keep her warm.

Tianeman Square was the first stop. It is a bizarre feeling to be at the site of such violence and see absolutely no recognition of any event having taken place. The whole world witnessed the student massacre in 1989 but no one will talk about it here. There is no monument, no memorial, nothing written to acknowledge that it ever took place.

The Forbidden City was jammed with tourists and I found it very hard to enjoy the whole experience… I guess because I wasn’t feeling my best and it was quite cold. The stroller was difficult to manage in places and it was hard to keep Katie covered up. I wanted to take photos but I didn’t want to lose sight of our group for a second with the crowds so dense. Even in such a tourist destination, where foreigners come every day, we were still such an oddity! People staring and taking photos. People will walk right up to Ava (Jim & Carrie’s 8 yr old daughter), put their arm around her while their friend takes their picture…without even asking!  It’s an interesting experience to be observed this way. Many people have been lovely and smiley when they see the babies but with such crowds, the rude people were making me grumpy.

The Forbidden City is a place of incredible beauty and it’s HUGE! It has 9,999 rooms!

The roof tops of most structures are the traditional ones you’ve seen…they look like bamboo chutes and served as perfect funnels for the snow that had fallen the night before and was now melting rapidly in the sun. Just as I was pushing the stroller up a very steep and slippery ramp, Katie and I got smacked with a couple of big, wet snow balls right on the head!!! She thought it was kind of funny. We were both soaked! I picked huge chunks of snow from around her little body and then discovered later that she was sitting on another pile that had slid down her back.

After about an hour and a half we made our way out the far end of the Forbidden City. Vendors were selling steaming corn on the cob, cooked sweet potatoes and sticks of strawberries on the back of carts and bikes. It looks so good but we’ve been a little nervous to eat anything on the street. We got back onto the bus for a short stop at the Silk Factory. Saw a demo of how silk is produced…very cool and the silk bed quilts were amazing. We didn’t buy anything in the store. Really couldn’t think straight anymore but the item were beautiful!

When we got back to the hotel Mom ordered some room service and ate it in the bathroom so Katie wouldn’t see it 🙂 We’d given her some cereal and wanted to keep her diet plain. She fell asleep after some play time and I went out with Sara at 4pm to go looking for a car seat.

Ah, the car seat saga! So we brought a car seat to the airport in Toronto because when we flew back with Katie she needed one for her seat (we got her an actual ticket/seat on the flight back). Air Canada info says that car seats are one of the items that can be checked free of charge. When we got there the woman at check-in insisted on charging us $70 in addition to the $70 it cost for the 2nd suitcase we needed to bring. Not that long ago you were allowed 2 checked bags if it was an overseas flight but not any more. There was no way I could do this trip without packing a bag for Katie so I was prepared to pay for the bag but not the car seat. I had read all the baggage details and flight regulations with an infant very carefully so I was really annoyed since it wasn’t stated anywhere that I had to have the child with me for it to be free. Why would I be checking the car seat if she was with me?! The fact that I was adopting a baby who was, of course, not with me yet, was irrelevant. If I wasn’t flying with an infant then I would have to pay for the car seat. It really made no logical sense and we were clearly not going to appeal to her humanitarian side. We had asked Jim to check if the Walmart in Nanchang sold car seats and I thought he said they did so we decided to send the car seat home with dad and planned on buying one here rather than pay to lug it all the way to Beijing. In the moment it made sense but it was not a smart move. No one uses car seats in China…so no one sells them. Walmart didn’t carry them and we had no idea where to go in Beijing. A/C is very strict about a child under 2 using a car seat if they are flying and it is supposed to be marked as approved for Canadian vehicle use. The woman at A/C said “oh they never check”. Well, we’ll see. I’ve now managed to purchase a car seat made in the Netherlands at the one department store in Beijing that carries them. We discovered this thanks to Sara’s research and once again, her daughter Kimberly who actually went to the store in advance and made sure they had them before we went. What an angel. So, at 4pm Sara and I took a cab to this gorgeous department store and I bought last years model at a large discount…but it still cost at least twice what I should have paid to bring my own. Sigh.

Cabs are extremely cheap in Beijing. A 20 minutes ride is about $4!!

Katie was asleep when I left and when she got up we all went out for a little walk to get some air.
I didn’t feel like eating dinner so we called it a night. Really trying to fight this cold! I can’t wait for my soft bed. This hotel is strange…things like glasses and dirty cups don’t get replaced and it seems impossible to get an extra towel. Today they did “turn down” service on both of our beds but left only one chocolate. There isn’t a day that has gone by (at either hotel actually) where we don’t get a phone call or knock on our door that is a mistake.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sydney
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 15:32:48

    Patience is truly a virtue

    Reply

  2. scrappinginontario
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 18:04:37

    I’m sorry you’ve had to endure this car seat challenge, especially when you’ve had to purchase it for only a few hours of use and possibly something Kate will not want to be in! It’s so unfair since you can quite easily hold Kate when she needs to be held since she is still lap child age. It’s unfair that you have to put her in a car seat because you purchased a seat for her but someone like myself who happened to have a spare seat beside me was able to hold my DD because I did not technically purchase a seat for her.

    The other unfortunate thing is that this car seat will not be allowed to be used in Canada. So sorry this has happened to you!

    It snowed the day we were at Tianeman Square and the Forbidden City too. It was pretty but I was very thankful to see the bus!

    Reply

  3. Lisa V
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 00:13:51

    I’m sure someone on our trip last year purchased a plane seat for her baby but did not have a car seat. she was laying on the seat sleeping most of the flight.

    Reply

  4. Lisa V
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 00:15:58

    Oh and also, I tried to say hello before but it didn’t show up. We were there last year and I just wanted to say congratulations on your beautiful baby.

    Reply

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