Saturday, November 20, 2010

China Day 2: Beijing

With a whopping five hours of sleep under our belts, we woke up ready to face a full day of touring one of the most amazing cities in the world: Beijing. Well, we were ready after a little caffeine and a massive breakfast buffet.

Might I digress for a little discussion about food before we begin? Hotels in China have the most amazing breakfast buffets. I mean, wow! The variety of tasty dishes is beyond anything that I have seen in the states. Chinese don’t really differentiate breakfast food from lunch or dinner food. It’s all just food. Some may think that eating fried rice and pork dumplings for breakfast is a little crazy but I say you haven’t lived until you have tried it. My passion is the dim sum…yum yum! Delectable little morsels of food wrapped up in neat little packages just waiting to pleasure your senses.

Now, back to the tour…First stop on any Beijing tour has to be the Great Wall. One of the few have-to things to do in China was to climb the Great Wall with Molly. I couldn’t wait to share with her the first moment that she set foot on this monumental piece of world history and important piece of her heritage. It was a special memory for me and I hope it was for her, too. And to make her memory even more sentimental, she got to climb the wall with her orphanage crib mate Luke and the Ahern family. What a blessing for these two to be together in this place.

Last time I was in China we climbed the Badaling portion of the wall. This time was a new experience, Juyongguan. Although it’s not quite as picturesque (in my humble opinion) as Badaling, it was far less crowded. That’s a good thing when you are asking a four year old to climb incredibly steep stairs for several hours. Juyongguan was peaceful and still gave you that once (or maybe twice) in a lifetime experience.

Molly was a trooper. Although the climbing was extremely challenging for her, she never gave up. I did have to carry her from time to time, but that just made it all the more special for me. It made my muscles scream in agony as I carried 35 extra pounds clinging to my chest, but it made me feel even more a part of her experience.

And to top it off, she even used the squat potty at the bottom of the wall! Yes, I actually took a picture of my child on the squat potty and posted on her website. She will probably hate me later, but I’ll pay for her therapy to get over it.

Second stop on our whirlwind tour of Beijing was the Olympic sites of The Water Cube and Bird's Nest. It was a very interesting place for us to people watch and to be watched by others! China did a first class job of preparing for the Olympics. It was an honor that they took very seriously. The entire city has been transformed since the time I was here last.

Stop number three was at the Drum Tower and Hutong markets. The drum tower and bell tower were used to tell time in ancient Beijing. We climbed more steep stairs to the top of the drum tower and were treated with a panoramic view of the entire city (through the haze of pollution, ugh).

After our decent from the tower we took a rickshaw tour through the Houtong markets. This is an ancient part of the city that gives you a flavor of what it was like to live in Beijing a loooooong time ago. Interestingly, people still live, work and play in this ancient part of the city. So fascinating to see. Around every corner we were pointing out unusual sights.

The final stop on the tour was Tiananmen Square. Last time I was there, we were asked to leave by several intimidating Chinese soldiers. I am happy to report that this time we did not over stay our welcome and left on our own free will.

We did get there just in time to see the lowering of the flag. This was an impressive display where the soldiers lowered the flag and then carried it across the street to the Forbidden City.

Throughout the entire day I would stop in udder disbelief.  I couldn’t believe that were in China. Today was an amazing start to what is sure be one of our most memorable travels. Molly was such a great traveler. She approached everything with enthusiasm and gusto, rarely complained and just kept going and going. She and Luke were the Dynamic Duo and had so much fun. I’d say Beijing was a success!!

Scene from the Great Wall.IMG_4142

More Great Wall Splendor!IMG_4135

Look guys, the Great Wall is that way!IMG_4144

The Ahern Family waiting for one more very important little one to join them.IMG_4164

Me and Molly on The Wall. A moment that I will never forget.IMG_4171

Even More Great Wall Splendor. You just can't capture the beauty adequately on film.IMG_4176

Luke and Molly hamming it up on the Wall.IMG_4175

Words can't describe the feeling of seeing this wonder in person.IMG_4136

My new Chinese friends. We joked around with the 3 men all the way up the wall. When we turned to head down, they continued their trek upward.IMG_4180

Squat Potty....we are not in Kansas anymore!IMG_3785

The Water Cube at the 2008 Olympic site.IMG_4216

The Bird's Nest.IMG_4223

The Drum Tower.IMG_4241

The drums inside where? The Drum Tower, of course!IMG_4252

Getting ready to tour the Houtong Markets.IMG_4262

Scenes from the Houtong.IMG_4267

Lowering of the flag at Tiananmen Square.IMG_4292

Taking the flag across the street to....IMG_4295

The Forbidden City.IMG_4293

Crashing after a very long day.IMG_3792

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