Sunday

Dragon Boat Festival continues today. It’s a three-day festival that began on Saturday, and almost everyone is on holiday, which means we said goodbye to our personal space (not the last time we will do this in China)
when we visited the Forbidden City today . The palace was built in 1406 and was the home to several Chinese emperors over the course of several dynasties – the Ming to the Qing. It is beautiful, enormous and has a fascinating history – like China.

In the afternoon we took a risk-shaw tour through the old section of Beijing and visited a local family’s traditional home – with a center courtyard and living spaces and kitchen on the outer edges.The day was filled with activity, but one image stands out: Alison, Jasmine, and Sariah walking arm in arm down the streets of Beijing. For the first time that she can remember, Alison is surrounded by people and new friends who look like her. It’s beautiful to see her in the culture where she was born and I am so happy that she has returned to experience it. But when I look at her I only see Alison, despite the Chinese features. When I took a photo of her with our guide, Vivian, I had a momentary realization that there is a Chinese woman out there somewhere who has no idea that her daughter will be returning to her hometown in the next few days. Perhaps we will even pass this woman on the streets of Guiping. Alison has a family here in China. It is a sobering realization, but I wonder if she will feel it as deeply as I do. For now, she is simply happy to have new friends and be the center of attention for three weeks.

We check out of our hotel tomorrow morning and board the night train at around 9 p.m. I won’t be able to post until we are in Xi’an in two days. Until then, goodnight from Beijing.

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