Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sightseeing Days

 we awoke in better spirits, ready to make the most of the day.  Our guide informed us that we would be touring Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and then old-city Beijing, so off we went.

Tiananmen Square was huge, as I knew it was, but even bigger than I expected.  Flora told us that it can fit I million people at once!  Thankfully there was only a small fraction of that there that day.  Since we knew it would be a lot of walking, we had borrowed a stroller from the hotel, and we found ourselves very thankful for it.  Much of the time she was riding over bumpy stones, but Jinna was still happy.
The Forbidden City kept reminding me of the Chinese version of the Biltmore Estate.  Opened to the public finally in the 1920’s, it had previously been occupied only by the Emperor and his family.  During the Ming Dynasty (1400’s) it was built to have 9,999 rooms!  The number 9 was considered the most superior number.  In actuality, when someone actually came through and counted there was something like 8,700 rooms, but close enough. (ok, a little bigger than the Biltmore maybe!) We explored the outer court, the inner court, and then the palace gardens.  Flora told us many fascinating facts about it all as we walked.

 We also ducked inside the little shop to buy some jade and a little necklace for Jinna Rai.  As we waited the woman painted her name inside a little bead with the tiniest of brushes!
Afterwards our guide took us to an authentic Chinese restaurant for excellent dumplings – so good.

Then we found ourselves whisked onto a rickshaw which took us around the old city.  We were amazed to see that people still live there in tiny quarters - -with public restrooms – but our guide assured us that the people who live there love it (he is one of them).  We visited with a homeowner inside her home and she showed us how they do things. 
Then, at the end of the tour we climbed the tall “Drum Tower” (across from the Bell Tower).  We happened to time it perfectly so right after we arrived at the top the performers came out and did a big drum show.  Very cool - -Jinna was mesmerized.
Thursday was the Great Wall day!  I was a little skeptical about how long the travel would be, and we tried to ask our guide ahead of time.  She said it would be about an hour and a half, and when Pete asked if it would be pretty smooth roads, she answered that we would go to the airport and then past that into the countryside and we would get to see a small village, yeah.  So Pete said we really should go.  I submitted.
Well, it turned out the trip there took 2 hours, partly due to ridiculous traffic (as usual) just getting out of the city center. Then, it was not just a smooth road as one might picture from a very large city to a very large touristy landmark.  It was about a million turns down very bumpy roads, including unmarked narrow alleys through towns, all start-and-stop constantly.
I had been warned ahead of time that children from orphanages often get carsick during their adoption trips because they’ve never been in cars before and the driving is crazy.  Well, after that trip to the Great Wall, I can safely say that our child does not get carsick.  (Thank you, Lord!)

Anyway, we finally arrived, and even I had to admit that the trip was worth it.  We took a short shuttle to the bottom of a large hill, and then took a cable car up the mountain.  (I tried not to look the whole time.)  All through this trip Jinna has been pretty unfazed by all of our travels and amazing sights, but the cable car finally seemed to amaze her.
We were able to walk along the wall for a while, and it was a beautiful day to enjoy all the views.

Then, after another great lunch at a restaurant our guide selected, we took the long, bumpy trip back to the city - -and, to our great shock (not), got stuck in all kinds of traffic again.  Somehow, safely made it back.

Jinna spent the rest of the afternoon entertaining us with songs and dances, indicating that she wanted us to video her. She’s not a shy child!  I think she’ll fit in just fine in the loud and crazy Frank household.

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