Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Great Wall Part II
The first official tour day was to the Great Wall. This time to the Juyongguan pass section. We started out early and Georgie finally got to meet some of the other girls from our group. I had thought that G was going to be the youngest but, as it turned out there was a five year old traveling with her mom and her 8 yr old sister. But most of the girls in our group are a few years older than Georgie with the oldest being 14. It's interesting talking to the families with the much older kids about their experiences of adopting as early as 1997.

We stopped at the jade factory on the way and were reminded of how expensive the government stores are compared to what we'd seen the day before. We still ended up getting G something ;-)

Then it was off to the wall. It's a very picturesque section. Really great photo ops there. Unfortunately with a few days of no rain and little wind the Beijing haze had crept back in making visibility low and the air a bit thick. Yuck. We made it up to tower nine which was pretty good. Climbing the wall twice in three days may have been less than smart. My calves were burning and the wobblies set in quicker the second time around but we made it!! We stopped and bought G a gold "I climbed the Great Wall" medal that they engraved with her name and the date... She loved it!! A hint to anyone visiting this section of the wall. On the way down, instead of the stairs, take the path that leads from the little souvenir shop in the middle... we didn't but several families did and they said it was SO much easier and faster.

After pouring out what seemed like gallons of sweat, we were back on the bus and headed to lunch at a restaurant conveniently located above a cloisonné factory store. I've seen the process three times now and I still find the amount of effort needed to create this art form fascinating. Lunch was fine though a bit Americanized for my tastes. Then we managed to find a few things we couldn't live without while passing on a few things I really did want but found too expensive like really large and highly detailed paper cuttings and beautiful cloisonné plates. Sigh. If only I had more money and more luggage weight ;-)

The paper cutting artist was on site at this location and his work, while a bit pricier than what I saw in other places, was by far much, much better. Gorgeous!

At that point it was time to get back on the bus and head to the hotel. G was exhausted and crashed on the drive which was long due to the horrible traffic. Its awful and honestly makes rush hour at the Orange Crush look not so bad. Erik our guide has been explaining some of the government's extensive efforts to get people out of their car and into public transportation. I have no doubt that they will achieve their "Blue Sky Program" goals...the Chinese government is so good at that.

Once we got back to the hotel we spent a bit of time just chilling in the room. G had decided she was burned out Chinese food so we walked down the street to Gung Ho a very western style pizza place. We had salad and pizza and Bobby had diet coke with ice and it was so clean and there was toilet paper, soap and paper towels in the bathroom. I love Chinese food but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a nice change.

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