Adopting Again The Trip

Friday, March 05, 2004
The Great Wall
Due to jetlag, we woke up around 3:30am. We had to force ourselves to stay in bed, but Mark got up at 5:00am anyways after several attempts to go back to sleep. He sent off an email to home and at 7:00am called Stephanie our daughter to make sure she, and the friends who were watching her, were okay. We promised to call her every day while we were away and so we rented a phone to use throughout China. It was the best investment we could have made.

A Jade Vase from the Jade Factory
Today, we finally got to visit the famous Great Wall of China. It was about a 30 minute bus ride to the Great Wall with an hour stopover at a Jade factory & outlet store. The tour guides make their money by giving your tours of different factories, then letting you loose in the gift shop. Then they get a kickback from the sales made. Still, the tour at the jade factory was very interesting and we did end up buying a nice jade goat for Tamlyn which she will get in about 10 or 15 years.

Finally we made it to the Great Wall of China and boy, was it windy and cold! We are from Chicago we know "windy and cold"! This was all that and more. Still, we managed to traverse a good portion of the wall and climb the hundreds of steps up the mountainside. One cannot really get a sense of the Wall's magnitude without being there. It was really a breathtaking sight and an incredible feat of architecture.

After visiting the Great Wall, we had a chance to visit the Cloisonne vase factory, which was located inside a large Friendship store, and see how these fabulous vases are created. These are the type of vases that were used to decorate the Forbidden City many years ago. The amount of work and detail which goes into each vase was utterly amazing and fascinating to watch.

Afterwards we had a group lunch at a restaurant inside the Friendship store. Mark, our guide, ordered the food for us and it was absolutely tremendous. There was much more food that we could eat and each dish was absolutely delicious.

After lunch we browsed the Friendship store and then went on to the Hutong Lanes. No, this is not where the Chinese people bowl. Hutong Lanes is an old-fashioned Chinese neighborhood where tradition seems to still be the way of life and people seem to live in a different world. In fact, we had to ride a bicycle-powered rickshaw through the area because the buses wouldn't fit through the alleyways and some of the streets. One of the rickshaw drivers got cut off by someone and started loudly cursing in Chinese. We were snickering even though we didn't understand what he was saying.

At Hutong we were able to visit a kindergarten filled with bubbly children. It was quite an experience to see these kids in their classroom and have them perform a song for us. It was evident that the teachers were doing an excellent job and really cared for their children. We also spent a lot of time watching a teacher teach toddlers to speak English. We were just amazed how well she controlled the large class and taught them the lesson. Looking at these beautiful children made us long for our new babies even more.

Even at the school we were constantly barraged by street vendors selling their wares. They literally chased us all around shoving their goods in our face. I am now regretting not buying the 2 Rolex watches for $5.00. That was quite a bargain that cannot be matched in the States and I'm quite sure the quality is the same (chuckle)!

Afterwards, we returned to the hotel, did a bit more exploring and shopping and then ate at McDonald's. Mark ordered a happy meal just to get the toy (an Astro Boy). Unbelievably, the food tasted very similar to McDonald's food back home although they were a bit skimpy on the fries. We were pleasantly surprised.

With dinner complete, we walked back to the hotel and prepared ourselves for the next day's orientation meeting with Holt.