We decided to head over to the Temple of Heaven since it was just a block away. Don tried to buy the more expensive ticket (30 Yuan, about $4.50) that allows you to enter all the buildings in the temple grounds, but apparently we were too late. So, Don got the general admission tickets for 10 Yuan, about $1.50). We were commenting on the very nice map that came with the admission, but then I saw a price of 10 yuan on the back. Don said that he thought the lady had short-changed him. But, since we don’t speak Chinese, we just usually take what they give us and say xie xie (pronounced shay shay, thank you). Apparently, we had bought the nice map without knowing it. At least we got a nice map out of being ripped off. 🙂
After entering the gate, a nice older gentleman approached us and started talking to us in English. He spoke very good English, especially for a senior citizen. We were a bit wary at first because there are a lot of beggars in China as well a people trying to sell things. We’ve also heard about tourists being robbed or frauded. But, this guy seemed genuine. He walked along with us, and he told us how he had lived in New York for 6 months. He asked us where we were from, what we did for work, how many bedrooms were in our apartment, if Don had been to Bill Gates home, what we thought caused the economic recession in the U.S., etc. As we strolled along, he told us about the different buildings and gave us lots of advice on what we should do while we’re here. He said that he lived close to the Temple of Heaven, and he liked to walk through the temple grounds and read his newspapers. He pulled out a Chinese newspaper with Hillary Clinton on the cover as well as a USA Today newspaper. He told us that senior citizens don’t have to pay anywhere in China. He can just walk into any park, hop on any bus or subway, and even take a taxi all for free. He had super thick glasses, and he still had to hunch over to get a good look at Caleb in the stroller. I felt like a missionary again walking along the streets talking to complete strangers and finding that each person had something special about them when given the chance to get to know them. He admitted that he likes to find people to practice English with. We were walking quite slowly, and as people passed us they would stare at us even more than usual, probably trying to figure out why this old Chinese guy was talking to a white girl and asian guy in English. As we parted, Don asked if he could take a picture with him. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Mister Xi.
We walked along this entire pathway conversing with Mr. Xi
As we exited the Temple of Heaven around dinnertime, we decided we would catch a cab to Wangfujing street where there is a mall with lots of restaurants. We were approached by some drivers asking if we needed a ride, and having learned our lesson already the hard way, we quickly walked past them. We found where the official taxis were parked, and a taxi driver said, "Hello." Another taxi was backing up right where we were walking, so we kind of shrugged at the other taxi driver and started getting into the taxi. A yelling match ensued between the "hello" taxi driver and the taxi driver whose car we were loading into. I wondered if we should stop loading and go to the other taxi driver since he was obviously there first and greeted us first, but Caleb was already in the back seat, and Don was putting the stroller in the trunk. The drivers continued to yell at each other, and although we didn’t understand a word, we gathered that the "hello" taxi driver was mad because the "back-up" driver had cut the invisible taxi line. Even as we were driving off, they were yelling at each other. We now have two lessons about taxis:
1. Always take a metered taxi.
2. Always take the taxi that is first in "line".
Nonetheless, we made it to the mall, ate a fine dinner that fed our entire family for $10, and splurged on some yummy frozen yogurt that cost almost as much as our dinner. Another fun day in China.