The . The former price of admission during the Imperial days was instant death, but today, it's a mere 50RMB.
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Connie: My aunt took us shopping in the bazarre where she has a shop, and wrung some steep discounts from the other vendors when we deigned to bestow our custom upon them. She's actually not my aunt - our connection is really pretty tenuous; my mother's sister's husband being her husband's first cousin on their father's side, but Chinese families work this way. I call her Aunty and her daughter and I call each other Sister. They live in the same housing community, so that they took it upon themselves the duty to care for the bewildered barbarians from the West.
My mother's cousin (son of her father's first cousin), whom I call Uncle even though he's a year younger than us, took us to eat Peking Duck for lunch.
This restaurant kept crickets chirping in tiny bamboo baskets from a potted tree. Chirping crickets are considered relaxing.
Sheven: The Chinese have a much smaller personal space. Leaning, holding hands and arms.
We had to fight off Connie's aunt (not the one who took us shopping) when she tried to pay for our meal. Very strong for her size. I had to lower my center of gravity to block her attempts to get to the desk where Connie was paying. It took both of us to complete this subterfuge. Weak Americans! Connie is spoiled by Rob. "If Rob was here I wouldn't have to be lifting heavy objects!"
I was convinced that Connie's uncle works out. She told me to stop feeling up her relatives. Although she warmed up to my wanting to marry Archer (her cousin in America) when I "grew up". She told Aunty this, and made her daughter YenYen burst into the room to join us for the first time, and say in English, "Really?"
Sheven: I squatted in a bathroom for the first time yesterday. I'd held it so long to avoid the nasty squat toilets in the restuarant that I was about to cry by the time we were dropped off at the gate of the Forbidden City. Connie has a traveller pack of TP in her purse, she tried to open it for me but I grabbed it out of her hand "Just give it to me!" No time to waste.
Bikes everywhere, that look older than the people who own them. Dusty and rusted. Old style girl frames and big metal fenders on both wheels. People in business suits and women sitting sideways on the back. This is my town! Biking in the city in street clothes! None of this yuppy Houston biking with the $200 speed bike and $200 helmet and multicolored stretch skin-tight outfit. I want to rent bikes but Connie is afraid. She said she wouldn't drive a car here. I could. I've been swearing at the (other) drivers in English and Spanish from the back of our cabs. Bikes are cocky here. They look like they are going to t-bone you from the cab window. They and their bikes are one, very adept tight turns without missing a beat, steady pace regardless of going against traffic on the wrong side of the road across a traffic circle, dodging pedestrians and busese like they are equally inferior. My legs wan to peddle.