The high-ceilinged cathedral with marble pillars and ornate altar area was full to bursting. Over eight hundred people, most of them Chinese. It was refreshing to see all ages and the Church felt alive.
We may not have understood the language but we could follow the mass. For hubby and me, the most joyful moment was the joining of hands across the congregation. I fought back tears of happiness as beautiful singing echoed around. The music stopped. With prayerful hands we turned, bowed and wished our neighbours peace. They replied in their own language.
We joined the queue for communion or blessing. There were three priests. I crossed my arms and hoped ours would recognise the universal sign for 'blessing only please'. He did. Phew.
Outside a bridal couple posed. They were delighted to let me join the camera crew. Another bride, in a piggy-floral decorated car, called me over to have her photo taken too. Obviously my photo fame from Russia has reached here.
We headed towards Tiananmen Square. We were diverted to a student art exhibition by a young man called Peter. Actually, afterwards we realised this could have been a potential scam. In the 'exhibition', the tutor offered us the opportunity to purchase some of the pictures. They were beautiful but luggage and budget restrictions had to prevail. We refused politely. The price went lower and lower. Hubby was wavering. I tugged him on the arm and told Peter and his tutor we had to leave. They nodded but Peter did not show us the way to the square as promised earlier. Were we gullible?? Maybe. Maybe not. Just be more careful than we were.
Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City were just as awesome as I had expected. As we approached the Main Gate to the Forbidden City, some people had their bags searched. Others were turned away. We were asked where we came from. 'Scotland', we said. With a beam we were waved through. Och Aye.
Everywhere the opulence, power and wealth of the old Emperors was in evidence. The blue and yellow paint only allowed for the dynasty leaders decorated the ornate buildings.
From courtyard to courtyard we moved northwards until time and the courtyards ram out. We would loved to have lingered longer. At least we had glimpsed this wonderful setting and some wonderful people.
A small boy must have been desperate. I noticed him drop his pants. Hubby was too busy, engrossed in the surroundings.
As hubby got closer, the two year old was in full flow, resembling the cherub fountains you see in gardens. He missed hubby's trousers by less than 1 centimetre. The little chap was told off by his parents until they saw I was shaking with laughter. They joined in. Hubby was still oblivious so I had to explain the joke.
Now we had to find our way back. I suggested a taxi as my feet were aching and hubby has man flu. An hour later and after asking four sets of people, we finally recognised the setting. Just enough time for a shower before checkout.
Checkout was slightly stressful as I could not find the receipt for our deposit. I checked pockets and purse. Nada. Big stress. The receptionist asked for my passport. As I handed it over, poking out peeked the dratted paper. Relief. Just a short wait while they checked to see we had not emptied the mini-bar or stolen the fire-escape headgear!!
Pocket money returned we treated ourselves to a cool drink while waiting for our driver.