The Great Wall of China
Mom: "Even bigger and more impressive than what I expected! Awesome!"
Dad: "Stretches the imagination..."
Mutianyu Great Wall Toboggan
Mom: "My entire life is flashing before me!"
Dad: "Is this how I am going to die?"
Hanging out with Mr. Robert Wang at the Great Wall
Mom: "It was so kind of him to drive us out to the Great Wall!"
Dad: "I appreciated our open conversation about spiritual things."
Mom: "What?? You don't use the kitchen?!"
Dad: "HQ for the Haggars in Beijing. Cozy, functional, and totally Reuben's personality!"
Beijing World Youth Academy
Mom: "Great to see a place that we've tried to picture in our minds for so long."
Dad: "So this is where Reuben lives and moves and has his being."
Food in Beijing
Mom: "Some of it was great! Some of it was...'What is this?'"
Mom: "I was fine until that big fish was brought in...I'm sure I saw his eyes moving!"
Dad: "Out of my comfort zone but turned out good."
Temple of Heaven
Mom: "The group of older Chinese men and women singing accompanied by a man on an accordion was unexpected and such a treat! And also the small orchestra that was playing near the Temple of Heaven."
Dad: "The senior citizen music was heavenly!"
Beijing International Christian Fellowship
Mom: "It brought tears to my eyes to worship with Reub at his church - far from Iowa, but we serve the same God!"
Dad: "Rock solid, especially the bass player in the praise band."
After-church Indian food lunch party
Mom: "It was awesome to meet Reub's friends including the members of the worship team from church. Again, far from Iowa, but our focus in music is essentially the same - to honor God and invite others to worship through music."
Dad: "Cool, thoughtful folks full of life. So glad they are Reuben's friends and support."
The Green Place
Mom: "All right, I'll say it here. This was one of the best meals we had in Beijing! The fried bread - yum!"
Dad: "Why is it called the Green Place? Definitely down home!"
2008 Olympic complex
Mom: "The Olympic area was impressive. However, I think I enjoyed just watching people more than the buildings. Families out for a stroll, some informal dancing, and a breeze that cooled us off!"
Dad: "I think I sleep-walked through this one."
Mom: "Dan and Reuben showed their love by going with me, as they are not 'shop 'til you drop' people!"
Dan: "Forget the shopping! Give me my foot massage!"
Blue Frog dinner with Sam and Ben
Mom: "Are you kidding me? Hamburgers and fries? HURRAY!!"
Dad: "Love those guys, and the protein saved me."
Mom: "Makes me want to read more about Chinese history and what happened there."
Dad: "Hot. Enjoyed getting to know Marina."
Mom: "Is that really Mao? Or is that a mannequin? We're gonna have to talk to Michael about this!"
Dad: "It was an accomplishment to make it through [the line]."
The Forbidden City
Mom: "Beautiful! Super hot! Reub had supernatural powers in bringing us cold bottles of water!"
Dad: "Fascinating. Enjoyed the photo shoots with random Chinese tourists!"
Dinner at Ellen's house
Mom: "Ellen made chili for us - yes, chili! How did she know it was one of our favorites?! She was an awesome hostess and her apartment was very classy!"
Dad: "Very, very good. Ellen made us feel at home with the Midwest chili!! A great hostess!"
Hai Di Lao hot pot
Mom: "This is amazing! Do the waiters expect us to get up and dance with them??!"
Dad: "The most interesting meal I have ever had, especially since I'm not sure what we ate."
Mom: "Reub, can they really drive a car down this street where we're all walking?"
Dad: "The most relaxing time I had - back at the apartment!"
Mom: "Is that rain, or a dust storm?"
Dan: "Grimy! I am concerned for the long-range health of the people of Beijing - including Reuben Haggar."
Beijing's population and size
Mom: "...is simply unbelievable!"
Dad: "I'm not done counting them. They move too fast! But God knows each one and loves them all."
Beijing's traffic and transportation culture
Mom: "It is a maze! Watch for cars making left turns--there doesn't seem to be a right-of-way!"
Dad: "Impressed with Reuben's knowledge of the city and its transportation options."
Mom: "The best part of the trip was spending time with Reuben and getting to see his world, including clapping to turn the lights on in the hallway of his apartment building or listening to him talk to a taxi driver about where we wanted to go. Thanks, Reub, for an awesome trip and for being such a great tour guide! We appreciate all you did for us to make us comfortable, including giving us your bed to sleep in! And we can't forget the peanut butter & jelly sandwiches--superb!"
Dad: "We are so grateful for the opportunity to visit with our son Reuben and to meet many of the important people in his life. Spending time with them and especially with Ellen is a highlight of our trip. The quality time and conversation with Reuben Haggar made every challenge worth the journey."
Reuben: "Mom and Dad, thanks so, so, so, so much for coming! It means a ton to me that you spent the time and money and effort to come check out where I live, what I do, and whom I hang out with. It was awesome having you guys here, and I loved getting to share with you not just the places that are part of my life now, but also so many good conversations. You are the best parents ever! Love ya!"
Bonus pictures! And bonus captions!
My mom and a fish head.
Bonus quote: "I wouldn't have survived Tiananmen Square without the umbrella!" since it was super hot and we stood in the sun for 1.5 hours. I take back much (but not all) of my "non-rain umbrella usage" slandering.
Post-mausoluem/Pre-Forbidden City peanut butter and jelly picnic!
While I waited in line to buy tickets to the Forbidden City, my mom just started pulling strangers aside and taking photographs! Or was it the other way around?
Represent, represent: two generations of Lebanese food lovers.
Mom lookin' good at Mutianyu.
A BWYA summer staff photo: Mr. Wang and Mr. Haggar.
It makes me happy that the music at the Temple of Heaven was what my parents found the most interesting, and not the stunning architecture, the timeless colors, or the ancient beauty.
The Water Cube in the dark.
Three-fifths (or is Simon sort of present with us also, in that shirt?) of the Haggar clan in front of the Gate of Heavenly Place, south of the Forbidden City.
There he is. The construction doesn't look very good.
Trying to spice up our poses, here.
Dan, Sue, and Marina were quite popular with the Chinese tourists...
The Forbidden City Photo Shoot, No. 32,019.
The Forbidden City Photo Shoot, No. 39,101.
This is where I live and where they stayed.