In addition to the thrill of seeing places like the Great Wall of China, Tiamen Square and the Forbidden palace for the first time, what I remember most about my first trip to China is the cold. At times during the trip, I think it dipped below zero degrees Fahrenheit. With the wind blowing, it often felt even colder.
On the morning of our third day, we visited the palace in Chengde. It was extremely cold, and Tim was complaining that her feet hurt her. She didn’t have proper winter boots, so she wore two pair of socks to try to keep her feet warm. The problem with this was that this made the shoes very tight, impeding circulation and actually making her feet colder. It had bothered her the day before, but on this morning it was causing her a lot of discomfort.
We were in the middle of a tour, and there was no place to readily buy boots. We had a chance on our first day in Beijing, but the tour guide didn’t explain how cold it would get until after we had left the shopping center, so Tim didn’t buy any. I suggested that Tim go to the restroom, because they would be heated, so she could at least warm her feet. When that part of the tour was done, we could try to get her some boots.
I waited for about ten minutes, and then walked to the restroom to see how she was doing. The restrooms were in a small building that also hosted a modest souvenir shop. Tim was sitting on the couch rubbing her feet. Two other ladies from our tour were there, as was the lady shopkeeper.
As I started to tell Tim that we could ask the tour guide to stop at a shop to get boots, she told me that she already had a pair. The shopkeeper had seen that she was in distress, and had offered to sell her old boots. One of the other ladies from the tour actually spoke Chinese and helped translate. The lady offered to sell the boots for about eight dollars. She could have asked for five or ten times that much, as there wasn’t really any competition close by. Not only were the boots in good shape, but they were Tim’s size.
Tim bought the boots, and a few small souvenirs from the shop. It made the rest of the day much more pleasant. Of course, when we made it back to Beijing later that night, she bought a pair of knock off Uggs because they were more stylish than the shopkeeper’s practical boots.
I was just amazed at Tim’s luck. The day that she desperately needed a pair of boots, she goes to a restroom and finds a woman selling a pair of boots her size at a reasonable price. She also happens to have one of the people who speak Chinese from our group there to help to translate.
One thing that we want to do is to pass on the good will that woman showed Tim to others. We are going to give those boots, and other footwear to some people in Northern Thailand. We aren’t sure of the details, but its something that Tim feels really strongly about.