Enjoy! And forgive the switch around.
As in any city, there is an old quarter of Beijing, and we were given an opportunity to visit it. By rickshaw.
Tiny houses, crowded so close they seemed to be one continuous building, old Beijing, called Hutong, was fascinatingly beautiful. We met a young woman who'd married one of its residents, and moved there. It was an odd little meeting, a lesson in how the culture of this mysterious country was so different.
She told us bluntly that she didn't love her husband. Nor did she even like him, but her parents had arranged the marriage and she would respect their decision because her parents would be cared for as a result of the union.
The whole meeting felt staged, but like the tiny, ancient homes around us, it felt as though we'd stepped back in time.
We visited another woman's home, only to discover that these nationally protected homes were bigger than we first thought. Our guide said they share public bathrooms, as they are not allowed to have private ones, but I noticed a toilet tucked away in back and wonder at the contradiction. Still, she entertained us with a lovely piece on her qin.
Too soon, we were gone from there and headed to the Beijing Opera, a performance that was snippets from three folk stories I found too hard to follow. The long days and the jet lag competed with the artistry that was the actors' preparation. The jet lag won out. I nodded off, but not before admiring the final work.
That done, I welcomed the return to our hotel. For tomorrow will bring one of the highlights of the tour.