We packed so much into the day i missed a few things. We also got to see the Olympic park, which included the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube where Phelps took all those golds. The weather changed very quickly and it was -4 c. We didn't stay very long, but were glad we got to go. Also, we were able to participate in an ancient tea ceremony. It was just lovely. We left wishing we had a tea set, but the one we wanted was about $1,000 dollars. The items that are the most traditional seem to be the most expensive here. I am still uploading pictures...so hopefully i will get them posted before our flight to Changsha this morning.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Yesterday was a fantastic day. We woke up (earlier than we should) and had the buffet breakfast here at the hotel. We met our guide Charlotte in the lobby and our group boarded our bus. It's nice, because we have our own driver and guide with us the entire day, so we don't have to wait around for rides or use public transportation. We went to the jade factory here in Beijing, it is the most well know factory in all of China and sells only the best quality jade. Our guide told us that here in China the women love Jade more than diamonds and just like diamonds the Jade has different grades of quality. We were given a tour, we also had the opportunity to shop. There were so many beautiful things, but the price tags were such a shock. We thought things would be so inexpensive here, but there were pieces of Jade selling for $50,000 American Dollars . We have had to use our math skills and convert the local currency Yuan (wan) to dollars to see what we are really paying. The dollar is not worth very much here, when we exchange our money we are sad it doesn't' t go very far. After the factory we went to the Great Wall.
Words can't even explain what an amazing experience that was. It was emotional for me, the reality of being in China and realizing the dream of adoption all hit me on that wall. The weather was beautiful, We were able to breathe the fresh air and as we climbed we warmed up and along the way shed a few layers of heavy clothing. There is so much pollution here in China the skies are always dark and grey. The only time we have seen the sun was at the Great Wall. Many Chinese couples get married at the wall, and I can understand why. It is a very spiritual experience. There was also a section of the wall that had a large link chain attached to the wall. On that chain were several locks attached. We were told a beautiful story about the locks.
The story explains that a man newly married was called away by the emperor to go build the great wall. He died building the wall. When the wife got the news she went to the wall to find her husbands body and return it for a proper burial. She walked the entire wall looking for her husband, and could not find him. A spiritual leader counseled the woman that if she walked and wept with great mourning the entire wall she would find her husbands body. The wall is 4000 miles. She began her walk. After much time passed, the wall had a section fall off, and her husbands body was found. She returned him home and buried him.
The emperor heard of her story and summoned her to meet him...he wanted to compensate the woman for her loss. She refused and returned to the wall, where she threw herself off the wall. She was forever with her husband now. Newlywed couples travel to the wall and purchase a lock to place on the chain at the wall, the lock represents eternally together forever.
After the Great Wall we went to lunch, it was very good. Everyone else had Saki with their lunch we had Coke Light...it's not called diet coke. Also instead of the word "calories" on the label it is translated as the word " energy". So Light Coke has zero energy. Funny stuff. We again had Chinese food and it was delicious... at the end of lunch they brought us a little snack fried food. One of the men in our group tried it first and got so excited because he said they were chocolate filled. I got one and it wasn't bad but I didn't think it tasted like chocolate at home. We later found out it was a paste made from black bean paste. We also went shopping at the friendship store run by the government.
We then went to an acrobatic show, followed by dinner. At dinner we had duck. That was a first. I am running out of time, we will post some pictures. We are catching a plane this morning (Sunday) to our daughter's province. We will meet her tomorrow!