Tuesday, September 04, 2007

December 9, 2006

Really all I can say about today is Wow! Talk about busy! God blessed us first of all with most wonderfully clear, fog free, smog free and cloudless day. It was amazing. There was also a cold wind that would take your ears and nose off. But Beijing was awesome today with the cold crisp weather - my (Tammy's) favorite. We started the morning with a schedule change from our published itineraries (pretty par for Glen and I - he he he). It has been decided that we will fly to our children's provinces tomorrow! Because of that we had a mega busy schedule today. Breakfast was interesting. I am so sensitive to smells and textures when it comes to food ... gonna be light eating for the next several days. I did manage to find a croissant and some potatoes for breakfast. I heard that there was a pan of chicken feet (claws and all) I'm going to try to take a picture tomorrow. Glen, who is much more adventurous, dove in and found several things to eat. Immediately after breakfast (8:30 am) we met with our group in the hotel lobby and boarded our bus. We started our day at Tiannanmen square. It was awesome to see and stand in that square - knowing its place in history. The street vendors are incredibly persistent there. Within the first few minutes I was very good an "No" with a head shake and a wave of the hand. It was necesary but I could not help but wonder about those people and their families. Was that their only income? For all of what appeared in many ways to be any city in the US - the reality of poverty in China was glaring to me. It touched me on a level no news story ever could. We then walked across the square with the wind biting at our noses and ears and headed over to the Forbidden City, named so because it was home only to the Emperor and his Emperess the public was not allowed. The Forbidden City was extremely ornate and the vibrant colors of the sections already restored were amazing. The ornate detail and intracacy of the buildings was like nothing I had seen before. Even the parts not yet restored held a splendor that captured my attention. Every single detail of the Forbidden City was thought out and done with a purpose as is so much in China. There is neither time nor space to share all of the information.After the Forbidden City (we did warm up a bit as the wind died down) we boarded the bus and headed to the Friendship Store. It was here that I was able to purchase the one thing I wanted to bring home for our daughter. The generational gift of a jadite bracelet. The jadite is a much higher quality than jade and the piece that we purchased came with a government certificate of guaranteed quality. I cried as they slipped it onto my wrist, realizing that for the next several years as I watched our daughter grow I would wear this bracelet and on her wedding day - hand it down to her. Okay - getting teary eyed again ... Because of our altered schedule we were unable to visit the Jade Factory which is where I had hoped to buy the bracelet, but our wonderful guid Rosa assured me that since we could not go to the factory the Friendship store was the best place to get the quality pieces.Here at the Friendship store we also toured the Cloisone workshop - absolutely amazing - and saw how they made those beautiful vases and pieces of art. What those people do with an ugly copper pot, some copper wire and enamel is incredible. Had we not gotten the bracelet we got I certainly would have picked up a few pieces. Considering that we have another 10 days in China though we decided to forego that purchase.We also had luch at the friendship store. Another light meal for me. There were an astounding number of dishes and one would expect that I could find something to eat. Well it ended up being some rice and a piece of watermelon. Again it was smells and textures that I could not get past. There was a pork dish (similar to sweet & sour) that I did eat as well. I did try several of the dishes which is more than I thought I would do. My drink was the best part though - Coke Light (like diet coke only better) with a pull tab! I took a picture of the pull tab since I can't remember the last time I saw one. After lunch I was still feeling hungry - big surprise. Thank goodness for the peanut butter crackers and the fruit snacks that were in my bag on the bus! Without them I would have never made it through our next event of the day.The Great Wall! Is more magnificent than I could ever begin to describe. Knowing the history and the human lives lost building it made it all the more incredible. I do want to say that the wind at the Wall gave a new meaning to cold biting wind. I wanted so badly to make it all the way to the top to tower #7. We were glad when the guides gave us an hour and 45 minutes. So we headed off. We got to tower 1 and were feeling pretty good. The street vendors were relentless there too. "One dolla, buy hat?" "Five dolla buy postcard?" Our stay at that tower was short. On we went to tower #2. Again the vendors swarmed us when we got there. No rest for the weary here. On we went to tower #3. That was a tough one. We stopped there and until I caught my breath and my legs quit burning I did not even notice the hats, carvings, scarves, postcards, pictures, magnets, and on and on that the street vendors were pushing at us. This was decision time - go back now or push on? I'm a stubborn one and so I grabbed Glen and we pushed on. This trek to the 4th tower gave a new meaning to burning muscles. We trudged up step after step after uneven step. Then we rested a bit half way to the next tower - no vendors here ... we looked up and then at eachother and Glen sang "Keep going, keep going" (that was for you Jonathan & Connie). So we did. My legs were shaking, my recently healed foot was protesting loudly, and I felt like my lungs were going to burst. It was the most incredibly steep climb I have ever made (without a rope and harness!) We were greeted at tower #4 by a camel and a guy selling medals (which could be engraved) and certificates. We almost bought those. We attempted recovery there for about 10 minutes. There were surprisingly few vedors at this point - but there were some. It was here as my legs were shaking like crazy that we made the ever so sad decision to go back down. We had plenty of time, even at our slow pace to get to the remaining 3 towers, but the lungs and legs were very clear that it was not in our best interest.And so we began our descent. This proved to be no easier ... it was almost terrifying to look nearly vertically down the stairs and know that one wrong step and you'd go down and not stop for a while ... By the time we got back to tower #1 I could hardly walk - Glen was not much better. We did not make it to the top as we had planned but we are OK with that. We did get better than half way there and it was incredible nonetheless. I am still (at 1:30am) in awe of the Wall. I do believe that our visit to the Great Wall will be the highlight of the Beijing tour for me.From the Great Wall we got back on our bus and headed to dinner. We had Beijing Duck Dinner. Hmmm - and me out of peanut butter crackers. I was praying we could go instead to the McDonalds next door. But no, down some back alley way we walked to a very authentic Chinese Restaraunt. We all got seated and out came bowl after bowl, plate after plate of food. Many were similar to what we had for lunch. Then out came the rice, plain old steamed white sticky rice - my lifesaver!! After the rice came what appeared to be slices of breaded chicken strips - yahoo! Tammy gets to eat! Oh I forgot to mention the size (or lack there of ) of the plates. They are the size of tea cup saucers. Anyway I put rice on 1/2 of my plate and a few of the chicken strips and was a happy girl. Exhausted and done for the night, but I finally got to eat more than a couple of bites that I could not choke down. Glen of course in his laid back manner was game to try pretty much everything. He even ate the duck and the sauces and the really spicy stuff - CRAZY! We got back to our hotel at 8pm completely exhausted. Our guide got our room changed to one that has internet access, so I am catching up our posts and then going to bed! Tomorrow we have the International Church service, the Summer Palace, the pearl factory and then we fly to Hangzhou. We may actually get Kenzie Monday morning instead of Monday afternoon. Oh I hope, I hope! Please keep us in your prayers and our beautiful daughter too. We are praying that her transition to us won't be too traumatic. We love and miss everyone!
Glen & Tammy

No comments: