This morning we went on a hutong tour. There is a company that will take you in rickshaws into the hutongs to show you how people live there, and tell you how it was in ancient times. A hutong is an alley formed by a compound with houses around a courtyard. The gray-tiled houses all look alike. It was very interesting and the ride was relaxing, except for when we had to cross busy streets and play "chicken" with cars and buses. We got to see a kindergarten in the hutong. Twenty percent of the children board there throughout the week. The kids were so cute, waving at us and saying "Hello!" We went into a family's home, where the gentlemen served us tea and snacks. He had some candied rose petals there that were very good. Jamie loved them and ate a bunch. The man there also had many birds, some of which were talking. There were a lot of street vendors and Jamie bought some kind of violin type thing, I forget what it was called. It is pretty fragile looking and will likely not survive the trip home, but it was really neat.
In the afternoon we went to the Pearl Market again, and to the Toy Market next to it. The Toy Market wasn't quite as exciting as I had hoped, but it was still fun. We did a bit more shopping at the Pearl Market, then went back to the hotel.
There we were given Rachel's passport and visa. She is ready to go home now! For supper we all gathered in the hotel restaurant and had a Peking Duck dinner. There were several different dishes, all very good. The chef carved the roast duck into slices in front of us. Of course the head and bill were still attached.
Tonight was our last night together as a group. Tomorrow some will be leaving for home, though many will be travelling with us the next day. I have to say that I can't imagine a nicer group of people with whom to share this experience. We enjoyed meeting everyone so much, and I truly feel that they are all wonderful parents. Their children are very fortunate to have them. I hope that we will be able to keep in contact, and share how our kids are progressing over the years to come.