Friday, December 01, 2006

A Great Day

Before we meet Rachel Shu-Ting we're spending a little time getting to know her beautiful homeland. Beijing is more than 3,000 years old, so there is much to absorb and not nearly enough time to see it in two days of touring here, but we're giving it our best shot. By 6:30 p.m. today, for example, we had visited a jade factory, a cloisonne factory, hiked up part of the Great Wall of China, toured the Summer Palace, and seen an acrobatic show. Tomorrow's agenda includes visits to the Forbidden City, Tianamen Square, a pearl factory and a dinner of famous Beijing Duck.
The Great Wall was a great test of our endurance. The weather was chilly today, and we could feel it getting colder as we rode the bus north of Beijng. I don't think any of us were prepared for the way the wind could whip across the top of that old stone wall and chill us right down to the bone, though. And no matter how much you read about how steep and uneven the stairs are, you really aren't prepared for how challenging the climb can be. When we finally got to the top portion and were trying to catch our breath, a travel mate said, "Now go do that again with a bunch of stone bricks on your back." It really puts this ancient construction project into persepctive. A couple of times Lance and I debated whether we should keep going, but we decided this might be our only chance, and we didn't want to say we gave up so close from our goal.

And, as I remembered from my Grand Canyon days, going down is not a lot easier. I'm waving jauntily in this photo, but right before Lance snapped it I was clinging to the railing for dear life as I carefully chose my next step.
Most of our group made it as far as we did. After all the hurdles we've jumped over the last two years, what's a little stone wall, anyway?
The Summer Palace was a wonder of excesses like a special hall built solely as a place to celebrate one ruler's birthday, or this marble boat:

We could certainly tell why it was the SUMMER palace, though! Did I mention how COLD it was today?

After lunch, I found these cool terra cotta soldiers in a store we visited.
Lance enjoyed making new friends.
If I can stay awake after my duck tomorrow, I'll report on another day's adventures. Then it's off to Changsha to meet Ting Ting!


Michelle said...

Hey you two...just had to get that in before it wasn't just you two anymore...I am so very happy your plane trip was smooth and uneventful. That was your last "major" hurtle to Rachel, can you even believe it!!!

The pictures of the great wall and summer palace have me so envious and jealous, (as you know this was a major disapointment of our trip), but kudos to you for making the trek dispite the cold. You will be happy to know that it snowed about 8 or so inches last night through about 10:00 am, with major drifting and windchills well below 20 degrees, (with the prediction of lows down to 9 degrees w/o windchill!); Schools were cancelled, flights cancelled, airports closed, etc. so you really timed your trip perfectly! I hope that update makes the weather there feel warmer.

I will check in again tonight/tomorrow but have to admit I am just so thrilled that your big day is so very, very close!

Enjoy your next 2 nights sleep,
Michelle I

Adrienne said...

What beautiful pictures! (And what a workout!) I'm glad all's going well in your corner of the world -- I'm anxiously anticipating Rachel Day!

Anonymous said...

Where's Waldo? Or should I say Where's Lance? That just cracked us up. We're happy to Lance making new friends.
This morning the news said Naperville was 4*. That was about 6:2OAM.
Sorry your weather is so cold. It would have been nice to be there in the spring or fall. Maybe some day you can go back with Rachel.
Enjoy your day tomorrow. Be safe.Post more photos it's fun to see you.
Love, Chris & Keith & kids

Anonymous said...

Lance, Only you would think of posing as a statue of cement.Just remember, Don`t look back!
Your Photos are great and I sure would like to see the Great Wall someday. I can`t wait to see all the beautiful photos you will take of your sweet little girl.I`m Really looking forward to them.
Continue having a safe and wonderful trip and we`ll see you soon.
Cyrus says, Meow and that he is having a great time with cousin Himee. He does get into trouble now and then.
The other morning I lifted the covers and to my suprise there were two cats underneath instead of one!