In our desperation for visitors, my Mom and Dad came to see us for an exciting two-week vacation (as you probably gathered from our Great Wall post)! Their visit overlapped with Chinese New Year celebrations, which enhanced their overseas experience in some ways, and made more trouble in other ways. We had a wonderful time playing tour guide, interpreter, bargaining adviser, and logistics coordinator for an unforgettable winter holiday with my parents. [WARNING: If you don't like cheesy (but heartfelt) sentiments, skip the next sentence.] Tiffany and I both agree: the best part of the vacation was being with family again.
On our first full day together, we hit the infamous Silk Street Market early in the morning for some sweet deals. I don't mind bragging the fact that Tiffany is a brilliant bargainer. The Chinese, I've noticed, have an innate ability to mentally break people in any situation where bartering is remotely tolerated (next time you share a driveway with a Chinese at a garage sale, you'll see what I mean); and with Tiffany's 50% Chinese heritage, she's no exception. After 6 months in the Motherland, Tiffany has fine-tuned her previously dormant superpowers to retain unfounded savings. The Larsen grandkids can also thank Tiffany for all the goodies Grandma and Grandpa brought back to Minnesota for them, because I'm sure they were able to fit many more surprises into their budget than expected (let's just say that with Tiffany's help, they could fit more bargains in their budget than in their suitcases).
While my mom rested in the afternoon, my dad and I hopped on the subway to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City (outer courts) for some quick photos. The Great Hall of the People (China's congressional hall) is also located in this area, due West of the Square, as well as Mao's Mausoleum towards the center. Every time I visit this massive site, I am deeply impressed as I imagine the rich history from centuries past. When visiting, you also can't help but wonder about the events that the Square will hold in the future; nobody can know the exact socio-political situation of future China, but whatever happens, these historic venues will inevitably be directly involved.
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