Another fabulous day in Beijing! Our morning started off bright and early; we were on the bus at 9am for a one hour ride to the Great Wall. On the way to the Great Wall we stopped at a jade factory. Jade is one of the precious stones that they mine in China, so it is everywhere. I enjoyed learning about the different types and colors and weights of Jade, as well as the meaning behind the artistry of the various pieces they make (all culturally, spiritually and historically based). After the tour they gave us 30 minutes to shop… definitely not enough for me. But Brian wasn't complaining J
The Great Wall is another one of those places that I don't think words or pictures can describe. It was just breath taking. The weather was absolutely perfect: sunny and brisk/cold. This was good since we hiked the wall---probably several thousand steps, if I had to estimate--for a good 50 minutes or so (that was just on the way up). No one else in our group ventured to go as high as we did, but Brian and I couldn't resist. Not only was it spectacular viewing, but the higher we went, the less people there were so more peace and space to enjoy God's wonders. (Plus…it was a great leg work out!) The vastness of the wall and the work that went into developing it, are just unbelievable. You can't understand it until you see it in real life. As I was climbing I focused on appreciating all those souls who gave their time and often their lives to build this structure that now so many of us can enjoy. On our journey down we met another couple who is adopting…they get their girl on Monday. They were from Indianapolis!
On a side note, it is an interesting experience being a minority. Sometimes people will just stop and stare at you. We have had random strangers take our pictures when we are doing a group picture. It seems lots of people want to talk to you and learn where you are from or why you are here. Today when we were at an enamelware store/factory, one of the sales ladies asked why we were here (very friendly, mind you). When we told her we were adopting she said "lucky girl." I replied, "we think we're the lucky ones." Oh, and the shopping in the enamelware shop/factory was fabulous as well. People take such pride and put such labor and detail into their artistry…it is something to be admired and appreciated.
We had a fabulous lunch at this family style Chinese restaurant/banquet hall. There were a lot of buses and large groups there; I think that because they have a lot of tourists they take a western approach to the cooking. The food tasted just as it would at an American Chinese restaurant. It was fabulous. The only thing that none of us really liked, and only a few( including Brian) tried was the full fish (head, eyes, fins and all). Bri said it was not very good…I couldn't get past the way it looked at me. They also had this rice-based alcohol on the table for trying. When in Rome….so we all tried it. I can only compare it to Saki…which I think is disgusting and tastes like rubbing alcohol. But we all got a kick out of the experience of trying this Chinese alcohol.
Last we went to The Summer Palace. As opposed to being in The Forbidden City, this is where the Emperor would go in the summer. Here at the Summer Palace, the Emperor would only have about 1000 concubines (as opposed to the 3000 he would have at The Forbidden City)! Again, the history, detail and beauty of these places are spectacular. The Emperor really lived large, and that is an understatement. We were there right at dusk, and it is on a lake, so you can imagine how beautiful the entire experience was. The pictures give you some sense of it all.
Tomorrow is a BIG DAY, although no one needs to be reminded of that! We fly out of Beijing around 11 am, arrive at Nanchang 2-3 hours later, and then at 4:30….we MEET LUCY! Can you believe it? The day is here! So the next blog I post should hopefully have pictures of our sweet girl! I am not sure how quickly I will get them on the blog, since I don't know yet about wireless access at the new hotel we will be in. Plus, who knows how busy I will be with getting to know our sweet daughter. But I will do my best!