Sunday, September 2, 2007

Whirlwind Beijing Tour and More!



Yesterday was a busy, but interesting day. We were up early to grab breakfast and then meet everyone in the hotel lobby for our tour day. We are spending the time in Beijing with a group of seven other adoptive parents from our agency. We split up leaving Beijing to go to our separate provinces and then will meet back up in Guangzhou at the end of the week. Everyone has that combination of excitement, exhaustion, and nervousness but also is a very friendly and supportive group. We look forward to catching back up with everyone in a few days.

Leaving the hotel, our first stop was Tiananmen Square. There were tons of tourists, both international and people from China. All the tour guides had a little stick with some kind of flag or little stuffed animal that they would hold up so everyone could make sure they stayed with the group.

Two stories of note. First, we had our own little "rock star" with the group. A little blonde girl (Mary) who was about three and attracted lots of attention. Several people came up and asked to have their photo taken with her...this lasted throughout the day. Second, there were lots of street merchants wandering around selling watches, parasols, hats, postcards, etc. When we stopped for a few minutes to take a group photo, it was like someone chummed the water. They saw the collection of Americans standing together and, knowing that we would be easy prey, they swarmed. We escaped with minor damages...a hat for 10 yuan (about $1.25) and a parasol for 40 yuan (a little over $5). Both purchases would prove worthwhile as it was sunny for the next few hours and these kept us from being burnt to a crisp.

From Tiananmen Square, we went to the Forbidden City. In old China, the Forbidden City was the home of the Emperor and only select people were allowed in. The Forbidden City really is a small city with a guarded and walled perimeter around it. Huge doors divide various sections and in a few places there would be five bridges crossing to a building-- the middle one was only to be used by the Emperor, the ones on each side of middle were used by high ranking officials and the outer two bridges were for officials slightly below the high officials. All other people were not allowed to use the bridges at all and had to go around the outer perimeter and enter through the back. of course, Kevin and I chose to walk over the middle bridge! It was a long walk through the Forbidden City with lots of ornate buildings.After we finished our walk through the Forbidden City it was back to the tour bus (the AIR-CONDITIONED!!! tour bus) where we would start our drive to the Great Wall. Along the way, we stopped for lunch at a cloisanne factory/shop. I've got a feeling this was an "arranged" stop where our agency was able to get lunch provided free for bringing in the tourists. Deb and I escaped unscathed. While there was some good food for lunch, our plates were literally the size of tea saucers. It was served "table buffet" style with several dishes in the center of the table on a rotating tray and each person could help themselves. However, with such a small plate, it was a challenge to really try much without multiple servings and then having all the sauces blend together on the plate.

The bus ride from the Forbidden City to the Great Wall was over an hour (not counting the lunch stop), but was definitely worth it. We were amazed at how steep the Great Wall is as it climbs up the mountain. As the steps were build centuries ago, they present a unique challenge to climb in that the size of the step varies (sometimes significantly) from step to step (although I doubt the handrails were originally part of the construction). Some of the group went quite a ways. Deb ventured up a few stairs and Kevin a little further. However, neither went too far. Yes, we can admit it...we're sissies.Along the way back, the bus driver went a little out of his way to take us by many of the Olympic buildings including the opening ceremony area, the athletes apartments, etc. While the rest of the day was spent with looking back at ancient China, this provided a glimpse of modern China.

This morning, we were up at 4:30 to get checked out and on the bus to the airport by 5:30. Everything went smoothly (although it was a good thing Deb noticed that they changed the departure gate while we were waiting in the lobby to board the plane). The hotel room is small (especially when we squeezed in the cot). We actually had housekeeping remove a chair and table from the room so there would be room to walk around the beds.The hotel we are at is located right next to a major shopping avenue, so after getting checked in an taking a LONG nap, we too a little walk down the street and found a place for dinner. Now we are getting settled in for the night and counting down the hours until we meet Yan. It is almost hard to believe that this moment we have waited so long for is just a few short hours away.We'll try to get our guide to take lots of photos tomorrow. And we'll get more once we are back at the hotel. Actually we'll be back to the hotel after a trip to Walmart to buy some essentials! Will try to post more with photos tomorrow.

10 comments:

M Morris said...

Eeek!!! You're THERE!!!! I hope you all love Nanjing and I can't wait to see pics of Yan with you!

Mary (for all of us)

The Zoo Crew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
My Three Girls said...

Can't wait to read the news!

LaLa said...

So excited for you!!! YUMMMMM ..You are totally making me miss the food. I can't wait to see her with you.

tochina_05 said...

Oh my goodness, it seems time is flying by - can't wait to hear about your first day with Yan

Emma's Journal said...

Wow, what a day. Can't wait to see you two and Yan together.
Sherri

Mike and Barb said...

Me too - I'm looking forward to your next post.
Hang in there!
Barb, craving chinese food, too ;-)

Kathryn said...

I can't wait for your next post either!

Sylvia said...

I've traveled to China twice but never to Beijing, so I enjoyed the informative post. Again, can't wait to see pics of your new forever family,

Stacey T. said...

How exciting. I can't wait to see your next posting!!!! Oh, and when we were in China and Hong Kong all we ever ate off of were tiny plates.