Random thoughts on the day.....
Breakfast-the usual fare, plus rice, congee, vegetables, dim sum, chicken sausage, (greenish) preserved eggs, salted (more than green olives)eggs, fish steak, etc. The food is very good. Although, maybe we're having Chinese with an American slant.
Great Wall- INCREDIBLE - the view, the height, the length, the agony of all those steps. Up, up, up is understandably painful. Down should be a picnic. After all, winding those muscles on way on the up, up, up, they should be just unwinding going in reverse, right? Not so. My newly accordion-pleated knee muscles were ready to be returned to the hotel for "pressing" after our descent. A picture does not begin to show the sharp incline (some places 45 degrees). Easily a 1500 foot rise in elevation. We actually saw a couple of women in heals doing it.....did not see them at the top. : ) Steps tended to be standard height, but some were two inches and others were 14. Caution was required while descending.
Jade - saw many different colors of jade. (Did you know agates are in the jade family?) Intersting to hear how much meaning and symbolism is represented in some of the objects.
Cloisonne Factory - "Factory" conveys mechanized system of production to me. Factory in terms of cloisonne is not an accurate picture. Each little piece of sopper was cut, shaped, mounted, and painted with enamel by hand. The paint and firing process is repeated until the enamel is even with the copper wire, then polished smooth. The amount of time lavished on a standard size vase is phenomenal.
Olympic Park - I've seen the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube in person. (Sorry to gloat but I still can't believe we're in China.)
Charlotte our guide is terrific! She anticipates our needs, warns us when to use the only available "western" toilet around (as opposed to squatty potties), shares interesting tidbits, knows everything(or so it seems to us!), and graciously deals with all situations.
The kids at home are doing great. Grandma bought them goldfish and a tank so that will probably keep them happy until the first one kicks the bucket and needs to be flushed. And we all know the lifespan of goldfish......
Sorry we are unable to post pictures. The wisdom of Solomen should be prevent you from asking to see our pictures unless you have a week to spare. :D
Two funny things: The cleaning supply room is labeled "sterilization room."
We saw this "catapult" attached to bungee cords maybe 100 feet high. It came with recommendations like "personal accident insurance is recommended" and "people with heart disease, hypertension, pregnancy and mental illness prohibited (mental illness would be a blessing!)" and "in case of electrical or mechanical failure, do not panic. Our trained employees will get you down. (We have no doubt! It's the rate of descent that concerns us!)
I've heard people say that they were so glad they could skip the Beijing portion of the trip. While we are eagerly looking forward to the advent of Kaitlyn, it has been really special to learn more first hand about her homeland. This portion of the trip with a two-year-old would be totally different. Think....bull in a jade and cloisonne factory. The Great Wall would have been a picture instead of an experience.
One thing that stands out to us is the depth of culture here. It makes us realize how "new" the USA is in contrast to the thousands of years of history behind Chinese civilization.