Today we went on a city tour and visited a cultural art museum and a buddhist temple.
The art museum was amazing. It was quiet, beautiful and clean. We've seen beautiful things here in China but nothing that was quiet and clean so it was very refreshing. They had very old antiques from some of the dynasties here and also had artist on site that would paint scrolls or carve stamps for you. One big thing here is a stamp called a chop. I have no idea why it's called a chop but it is hard like stone and has the animals of the chinese zodiac on the top. Claire was born in the year of the horse so her chop has a horse on the top. The artist then carves the bottom with the English name and Chinese name in the characters.
Unfortunately the painter wasn't there while we were but we looked through some paintings that were all done by hand, as in fingers, palm and fingernails. They are amazing.
After the art museum we visited a buddhist temple. I thought it would just be one building but it was actually a compound of many small pagodas that they pray for certain things at each one. Then there was the 17 floor main pagoda. The monk there would do a blessing on your child if you wanted. We went back and forth on if we wanted her blessed or not and then decided to do it. It doesn't change my Christian beliefs at all or the fact that we will be raising her in Christianity. We viewed it more as a chance to have her future blessed by a culture in her home country. She recognized a lot of things around the temple so we think her grandmother might have been buddhist. The monk did a long chant on a drum then sprinkled her with water that had flowers in it and then returned to his chant and drum. It was very cool to see different cultures; even if I don't agree with their beliefs. We have the whole thing on video so I think that will be cool for her to see in the future.
After all that touring the bus dropped off anyone who wanted to go shopping at the Carre Four (like a overly chaotic Wal-Mart) and then we'd just take a taxi back to the hotel. Almost our entire group got off the bus and we had lunch together at Papa Johns and then we went shopping. This place was insane. They had candy and decorations galore for the Spring Festival (what they call Chinese New Year.) We got a few goodies to bring home and then tried to get a taxi. Two hours and a lot of frustration later I cut off about 6 Chinese men waiting for a taxi and claimed it as my own. J said they gave me quite the stare down but I didn't care; I'm taller than all of them. We had walked so far back towards the hotel that our fare never climbed above the starting fare. We were very tired when we made it back.
Claire is still doing well but I can see that our adjustment when we get home might be a bit rocky at times. She doesn't like to be told no or not get her way and is just starting to realize that mom and dad have rules. Last night the battle was she wanted dad in the bed with her and I to go to sleep. Dad was in the room but not in the bed and when we told her no she huffed and pouted and refused to look or speak to us. I think it is a glimpse into what we might face ahead.