Saturday, July 14, 2012

Day 3...Beijing

A few first impressions....
1. I was prepared for hot, and though it has been, it has been a tolerable heat. We've come back drenched in sweat each day, but we've also spent the greater part of each day walking outside. The hotel is quite comfortable actually.
2. I was prepared for the stinky squatty potties, but not for the overall smell of China. It is distinct. A mix of smog, sweat, spice, and trash. Not really a nice smell, and we found out today the source of the real stench was fried tofu. It is nauseating.
3. The traffic is CRAZY here! NO American city can compare. Here it is  first come first GET, and it doesn't matter if you are a pedestrian, bike, car or bus. We collectively gasp and cringe as we ride through the city street on the bus. It still baffles me that we haven't been in a traffic accident!

Today I must say has been even more physically exhausting than yesterday. Greg and I are both feeling much better, but we have walked so many miles it just makes my head spin. The Great Wall was really spectacular to see, but OH. MY. GOSH. is it a brutal climb! I didn't make it far, and I was totally fine with that! Greg actually made it further than I did, but neither of us pushed it too hard as we both want to be well by the time we get Annabella. We've become good friends with another adoptive couple in our group, Kim and Kevin McQueen. They are going through the traditional program and have been waiting 6 years to get their daughter. She will turn 1 year old the day after they get home. Tomorrow morning we all fly out to our provinces, and in just 2 days we will have our children. Kim and Kevin actually get their daughter tomorrow!

Today began with a video call to the boys and a breakfast at the hotel. The buffet is so strange, but it is good. There are scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, and black eggs. You can get toast, and cereal, and loads of delicious pastries and fruits. We had dragon fruit again today, and it was really good. They also have fried rice, tofu, and many types of cheese, fish, and even soup. After breakfast we headed to the jade factory. We learned all about the different types of jade, how to detect fakes in the markets, and then had an opportunity to do some shopping. We took loads of pictures, but I only have time to upload a few with each post. When we get back to the states, I will try to create an online album for anyone who would like to see the thousands of pictures we are sure to have! One of my favorite things was learning about the happiness balls at the jade factory. It is carved from a single block of jade by a master carver, and can take up to 6 weeks per piece. The ball has anywhere from 3 to 6 interior balls and all are free spinning. We picked out one to bring home with us, and will display it on the mantle.

Master carver working on a happiness ball at the jade factory

Jade carving
 After the jade factory we headed over to the Great Wall. It was o hot today, and we had just an hour and 15 minutes there so we didn't get too far up. I think that was plenty of time for all of us though as we are all pretty worn out from all the touring yesterday still. After the Great wall, we went to eat at a famous restaurant next to the Cloisonne factory. We were running late because of the terrible traffic so we didn't shop at all there. The lunch was really fantastic though! After lunch we went over to the Olympic stadium and got some pictures of the water cube, and birds nest. Then we jumped back on the bus and headed to the Acrobatic show. We arrived about 5 minutes late, but still enjoyed the show. We had VIP seating so we were right up front. There were many great acts, but as with most things, the finale was the best. They had FIVE people on motorcycles inside a cage riding round and round!

Greg at the Great Wall of China

Lunch... Steamed snow peas and carrots, french fries (there was a 2 year old at the table,) prawns, sweet and sour pork, some sort of fish, a beef dish, ox bone soup, steamed broccoli, and we always get watermelon at the end.

The Olympic stadium...The Bird's nest

The water cube at the Olympic stadium

Acrobatics show

 Once we got back to the hotel, Greg and I were welcomed with a very UNwelcome surprise. We tried our room keys only to find our room locked from the inside! They had to literally break the door to get into our room! It was scary, because they had several hotel personnel there and thought that someone had gone into our room, and was locked inside. Fortunately for us, no one was inside, and what had happened was that when house keeping left the room, the door closed too hard, and the metal lock fell across the bar, locking us out. Once we recovered from the scare we headed back down Pedestrian street and found the Peking Duck restaurant. It was much more expensive than we'd realized, but we were both glad we went. They shaved a roast duck table side, and you took the and put it into a paper thing "pancake/crepe" and then spread a duck sauce and slivered green onion into it rolled it up and gobbled it down. We were also served a course of crispy duck skin with a bowl of sugar to dip it into. It sounds strange, but it was really, really good!

Tomorrow we have to be up super early to board a plane for our flight to Zheng Zhou. It's just two days now until we get Annabella. We really haven't had time to absorb the enormity of all that's happened, but with each day, we all seem to be a bit more emotional. Today three of us got weepy at a couple who passed by us, who looked American and had a small baby boy that obviously was adopted here. Just knowing that we are so close is just beyond words. I simply can't describe it. As always, we are so thankful for the prayers from home. I assure you they are working wonders on us, God has heard them all and has played out your requests in showing vast improvements in our health, and in enabling us to adapt to the pace of life here. I don't know when we will be able to update again, hopefully we will be able to quickly establish internet service when we get to our next hotel. In the meantime, please continue to keep us and all of the families in our group in your prayers. God bless!

Isaiah 25:1 "O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago."

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