February 22, 2013

Bejing: Day 1

After spending about an hour writing this post last night, it was apparent that the jeg-lag WAS getting to me since it was 8:30pm and I couldn't keep my eyes open. I decided to leave the rest of the post until this morning and go to bed, only to return to finish just now and find it not there. UGH. So here it goes, again...

We arrived in Bejing at about 11:30 Thursday night; about an hour later than scheduled. Thankfully, things moved quickly since the airport was pretty empty at that time of night. We easily found our guide, Tom, and were ready to go by about midnight. Before we got in the van, Jon had to snap his first picture....the smog of Beijing!

No, it's not fog, it's smog. And it's disgusting. I had heard it was bad here, and after walking around in it all day yesterday, I understand why so many people wear masks. My throat was scratchy, I was wheezing and had a bit of a dull headache by the end of the day. So gross.

We arrived at our hotel around 12:30 and immediately went to bed since we had to be up and ready to go by 8 on Friday morning. Thankfully, we were both able to sleep about 6 hours. The next morning we went down for breakfast and were able to meet many of the other people from our group. They're a great group of families and we're looking forward to getting to know them better. Breakfast was really good...many American options and many Chinese options.

Tom shuffled us all into a van promptly at 8 to head out for the day.

Our first stop was a Cloisonne (cloy-son-ay) factory. Here they take copper pots, attach thin copper strings in a myriad of designs and then fill the spaces created by the designs with enamel. It's fired in an oven where the enamal shrinks, so they repeat the process 7 times and then polish the whole piece. It's quite beautiful, and after seeing it, I'm pretty sure my parents have one in their entryway. There was a large showroom where we bought a couple small gifts.

This man is polishing the pieces by hand.

The next stop was the Great Wall! We had the option of climbing two different sections of the wall, and I think we managed to pick the more difficult one! If you think it looks easy, think again! None of the steps are the same size...they range from about 4 inches to 2 feet! Get a few of those 2 footers in a row and you get tired out FAST!

Apparently, Americans are a novelty to some Chinese people. These three guys were SO interested in us; likely because of our friend who speaks a bit of Mandarin. They took pictures of us; with and without them in it, followed us along a good section of the wall, then took more pictures of us. Eventually, they asked Jon and our friend to sign their names for them. Then they taught us how to write them in Chinese. It was a pretty neat interaction.

Our friend explained that some people from the country have never seen a foreigner. This seemed hard to believe, until I realized we were the only white people at the wall. They made such a big deal out of us, we almost felt like we were famous!

Next we went to a jade factory. It seems to be a common theme to show tourists how things are made, then usher them into a HUGE showroom of things to buy, where a Chinese person follows you closely while you look at things. The jade was beautiful, but we didn't buy anything because most of it was quite expensive.

The woman above is carving a family ball. These are a traditional chinese symbol of family harmony...one ball inside another, inside another, inside another, etc., all carved from a single piece of jade. The idea is, since the balls cannot come apart, this represents that no one can break your family. I'd like to get one, if we can find one somewhere for a better price.

This was the guy who was assigned to follow us around. After getting slightly annoyed at his closeness, we decided to talk to him instead. We complimented him on his english, which though broken, was really pretty good. He immediately forgot he was supposed to be selling us stuff and started talking about his studies and how much he likes to practice English. He even showed us his textbooks! We talked to him for a good 10-15 minutes about it; I'm pretty sure it made his day. And it was much for fun for us too :)

This was in the giftshop outside the jade factory. Not sure why anyone would want something like this, but it made for a good laugh...

We also ate a meal here. Everything was served family style. Aside from that brown soup, which was pretty gross, everything else was very good. I don't have any idea what any of it was, except I'm pretty sure one dish was sweet and sour chicken.

Last on the schedule for the day was a visit to Olympic park. We saw the "bird's nest," which really is an incredible structure.

This next picture is for my race-loving son....we also saw these kids practicing whatever sport this is. They were serious, and very good. The youngest ones appeared to be about his age.

We went back to the hotel where we took a short rest before going out to find supper. We ate with another couple from our group at a local mall that had a nice food-court type area. They also had a ColdStone, so we got a shake for dessert. I have to admit that as much as I'm LOVING the Chinese food, something familiar tasted good.

We've felt really good so far and not really had any problem with jet-lag, although we did go to bed about 8:30pm. We both woke up 2am, but thankfully were both able to get back to sleep before getting up at 6. We have another full day of touring today and leave tomorrow already for Nanjing! Thanks for your continued prayers for us on this journey!


  1. Soooo excited for you guys! That food looks amazing! Have a wonderful time!

  2. Welcome to China! We are about 80 miles south of you in TEDA, Tianjin. I wondered how you would react to Beijing's famous smog. We have it here also, but usually not as bad. Nice that they are touring you about. Did you go to Badaling Great Wall? We have been there and another area. Is is not as easy as it looks to walk it! They have 'runs' on it also. This is Bob's phone number 18622704962 if you need anything...he knows enough Mandarin to help or if we can do anything for you.
    So excited you are finally here to get your daughter! Pat and Bob Jenks

    1. Thanks Pat! I have no idea what part of the wall we were on. Badaling sounds familiar though!

  3. Wow! Looks incredible and the food is beautiful!