Location: Beijing

The group can all agree that today was one of the most fun days of the trip so far. We started the morning with an intense game of ultimate ninja and our usual fluffy bun breakfast. (We discovered that putting peanut butter on them makes them even better!!)

After breakfast, we headed to Little Flower for a mellow morning with the babies. About half the group played with the kids while the other half spent some time washing the playroom floor mats. Playing with the babies keeps getting better and better each day. While we do try to mix it up and play with everyone, we are still making deep and meaningful connections with each kid which feels incredibly special. Today I decided to play with a little boy named Yan Zhan who I don’t normally play with, and we immediately formed a bond. I would say the word “Ah,” and he would repeat it back to me with a huge smile on his face. It brought me so much joy and warmth to feel how happy he was over such a simple gesture. When I see these children smile, crack up, or clap their hands even over a silly game like “Ah,” it makes me feel more and more lucky for my life. It does make me realize that what is truly important is health, family, and happiness.

Once we finished up with the babies, we had our favorite Chinese take-out food for lunch. (We all think it is so cute and funny that we are eating Chinese take-out in China!!!) After a large meal of sweet and sour chicken, fried rice, steamed broccoli with garlic, and salty green beans, we were ready to spend the afternoon at the 798 Art District. Today is Charlotte’s birthday, so we decided to organize a surprise scavenger hunt! We spent a few minutes stalling Charlotte at different stores while Britta and Joy ran all over the Art District hiding clues and hanging balloons. From going into a gallery and having to sing “Happy Birthday” all in Chinese, to searching for a big red rabbit sculpture, (with a quick boba pit stop in between 🙂 ), we finally finished the scavenger hunt. The final destination was a cake shop where we enjoyed a delicious green tea and chocolate cake and sang “Happy Birthday” to Charlotte. After celebrating, we had a few hours to roam around the Art District, but our mission was to find anything that represented Charlotte and bring it back for her to open at dinner. A few of us went into a really cute store that had adorable art supplies and daily essentials like hair brushes and portable fans. We decided to get Charlotte a bag full of things she could write or draw with since she told us on Day 1 that she loves arts and crafts. We also added a fan and a brush since it is so hot, and since we tend to have french-braiding parties on the train! We wanted all of our items to have bright colors and sweet patterns because Charlotte is so kind, bubbly, and easygoing. After shopping around the Art District, we all met up before getting on the bus and decided to have an impromptu dance party in the street. We blasted “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” on Bianca’s iPod Touch, and all the locals stopped what they were doing to look at us, some even taking pictures and videos! Once the bus came, we were all feeling really happy and wanted to continue the party, so we used Britta’s speaker and sang super loud on the bus for the entire ride back to dinner.

For dinner, we enjoyed some beef dumplings, fried chicken, and lots of veggies while Charlotte opened all her gifts, one of them being a slideshow of all the fun memories from the day which we watched together. We returned to the hotel, and we all met up in the same room to listen to music and talk before going to sleep. The days keep getting better and better, and we are all so excited for what is in store for us next!

QUOTE OF THE DAY: (*After realizing she ate meat*) “I’ll be Buddhist tomorrow.” – Bianca