Friday, February 7, 2014

Beijing Day 3: Great Wall, Cloisonné Factory & Olympic Area

Today has been another great day! We both slept well last night and managed to not wake up until 6:20 this morning.  Take that, jet lag!   We got ready, ate breakfast downstairs and then came back up to Skype with the boys who are now with Bryan's parents for the weekend.  Caleb has been running a low-grade fever but overall seemed like his usual self.  Joshua is thrilled to play with Aunt Carolyn's old My Little Ponies at Gran Jan & Pop Pop's house.  

At 8:30 we loaded onto the bus and drove 1.5 hours to the Great Wall of China.  It was still cold today but fortunately the snow stopped last night.  The wet, cold weather must have cleared out much of the smog that had been plaguing Beijing in recent weeks.  We have beautiful blue skies in Beijing today which is a pleasant surprise!  We toured the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall.  We were able to climb up a decent distance although not as far as some people in our group.  The walkway got crowded at the top and was not moving much so we stopped climbing and enjoyed the scenery.  The steps were steep, uneven and had snow on them.  It was a good workout- the ultimate stairclimber!  

The Great Wall is unbelievable.  It amazes us that men were able to build it so long ago.  We enjoyed hearing about the history of the Great Wall from our guide.

Bryan and I on the Great Wall!

Our view when we got out of the bus

The section where we climbed.
We made it about halfway up to the tower at the top.

Bryan sporting his China hat that he bought at Tiananmen Square for 30 Yuan, or about $5.

We think this was a temple in the section of the Great Wall we visited.

Cannons used to protect China during the Ming dynasty

After the Great Wall we loaded back onto the bus and went to visit a Cloisonné factory.  Cloisonné is traditional Chinese pottery that is made from copper pots.  Intricate designs are created on the surface of the pots/vases using tweezers and a soldering method.  Once they have been fired, the pots are painted and then re-fired and glazed.  It was a very detailed and intense process to make such beautiful works of art.  After the tour we went upstairs to eat in a traditional Chinese restaurant.  The food was served family style on a lazy susan in the middle of the table.  The food was good although I think yesterday's was better.  When we were done eating we had the opportunity to shop in the gift shop downstairs.  We  bought 2 Christmas ornaments made in the Cloisonné style.  Since the store was owned by the government the prices were high and non-negotiable.  We plan to do more shopping in Guangzhou where prices are much, much better. 

Our next stop was to drive through the Olympic area in Beijing.  It is clear that the people of China are very proud to have hosted the Olympics.  The Olympic Village is quite impressive!  We saw the area where athletes stayed as well as the places many people remember:  

The "Water Cube" where diving and swimming competitions took place

The "Bird Nest" for the opening ceremonies and track and field competition
Tonight we will attend a popular acrobatic show in Beijing.  We hope to grab some dinner and then visit "snack street" when we are done.  Tomorrow morning we will head to the airport for our flight that leaves just before 1pm local time.  We will fly to Zhengzhou, the capital of Hannah's province and have time to get settled, go to Walmart if needed, and exchange more money.  On Monday morning we will go to the Civil Affairs office to get our sweet baby girl!  We have really enjoyed our time in Beijing together and with our travel group, but our hearts are ready to begin the work that we came here to do--- to become the forever family of Hannah Elizabeth Ping!

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