...and we walked, and we walked, and we...

And we thought we were tired yesterday!

(Warning! We left the hotel at 8:30am and we didn't get back until 8:15pm. I'll try to be brief, but WOW did we see a lot today!)

The whole idea of being in China today was still surreal! I kept having to remind myself that we were really here. I guess it will be more easily believable after Kylie is with us...

After an AMAZING breakfast buffet (Chinese, European, & American fare) we boarded our bus ~ one of three, there are 42 families with our agency here this week ~ and headed to Tienanmen Square. It is incredibly huge ~ for those of you who have been to our nation's capital, imagine the mall paved ~ and impressive. There are many buildings surrounding it including Mao's Mausoleum ~ his body is preserved in a glass coffin (eeewww, gross, he died in 1976!) ~ but it was closed today and so we didn't get to go inside. Ian however thought it was pretty cool, so here he is in front of the building.

As you may know, the 2008 Summer Olympics are going to be held in Beijing. One of the buildings on the perimeter of the square has a countdown clock. Note my hat, I brought one from home, but left it in the hotel this morning. The wind was pretty wicked out in the open, so I splurged the $1.35 to buy myself something to keep my ears warm.
Perhaps one of the most famous sights on the square is the outer gate leading to the Forbidden City. That picture of Mao on top is HUGE, I'd guess perhaps 20 feet tall. Note the guard on the left side of the picture. Poor guy had to stand stick still for hours, I'm sure he was freezing!

One more interesting note about the square... The reason that we know the square so well was not mentioned at all in our tour. From Tienanmen Square, we walked through the three outer gates to finally enter the Forbidden City. It was called such because during the time of the emperors in China, the common people were forbidden to enter. It was only for the emperor, his officials, his wife, and his concubines (over 3000!). The architecture was unbelievable! You can see the Chinese version of gargoyles below. These animals were to explain the importance of the building. The more animals, the higher the importance.

Next are statues. We saw many versions of the lions. One is male, the other female. Can you guess which is which? (Answer and explanation at the very end of the post).

Of course mid-day a bathroom break was necessary... Here's the sign outside the toilet.

After about 2 1/2 hours of walking through the square and city, we headed for a huge lunch. It was amazingly good Chinese food (much better than that at home, go figure) in mass quantity. We had about 10 different dishes to share among 10 people. We put a dent in it, but couldn't eat it all!

Next was a stop at a pearl market. Yes, we bought some ~ both for Kylie and for me ~ but the reason I brought up the market was to share a fact I never knew. I always assumed that an oyster produced one pearl. But today I got to scoop one out of a tank they had (the oysters were from the Kunming Lake inside the Summer Palace grounds) and the tour guide opened it. That oyster had 25 pearls inside!

Then we went to the Summer Palace which is just what it sounds like, a palace more on the outskirts of Beijing that was the summer residence of the Emperor. The winter in Beijing is very cold and Kunming Lake was frozen! Folks were out sliding on the ice. One of the most impressive views was in front of the Temple of Incense (where the Emperor or Empress would go to offer incense to the gods twice a month to improve the harvest).

We got a kick out of the following sign. Apparently something got lost in translation!

The heavy haze in Beijing helps to make a pretty sunset. This shot overlooks the lake.

Just when we thought we must be almost done, we went to the silk factory. It is located just in front of the Olympic stadium complex, so I had to stop and pose with the Panda from the Asian games. We still aren't sure if that will be the symbol for the Olympic games or not.

Inside the factory we learned about how silk is produced. Did you know that it takes about 1500 silkworm cocoons to make one woman's blouse? There is a LOT of work involved!!! Here you see the women in our group learning to stretch layers of silk to make a comforter. (Eight cocoons were unwoven together and then eight of those groups were stretched with eight more into something the size of a notebook. Then that notebook was stretched like we are stretching it in the picture. That takes a LOT of cocoons!

(In case you are wondering, yes, we bought a few traditional silk outfits for Kylie. One dress to wear now for the "Red Couch" photo at the White Swan Hotel. The other two are in the next two sizes so that she has traditional dress for the next few years of Chinese holidays).

Just when we thought we were ready to completely crash, we rode on to dinner. It was even bigger than lunch and by the time we were done we were just about slap happy between full bellies and sleepiness. But there was more to come, Peking Duck! It was delicious! There is a whole order to eating your duck. First you take a small crepe like pancake and dip the duck slices in a yummy sauce. After you get a few pieces of duck, you top it with thinly sliced spring onions and then fold the crepe (kinda burrito style). It is a sort of ritual, so one of the waitresses came to make the first one to show us how. Oh, and there was a big display of the duck getting cut ~ it is an intricate process to make sure each slice gets some of the crispy skin (part of what makes Peking Duck so good).

Then when we got back to the hotel, Adam, Traci, Ian and I went to buy more bottled water at the Carrefour. It is the loudest, most chaotic store I've ever been in. I'm convinced that you can buy anything (except for a car) there. I will say that I learned why our agency recommended that we take so many types of over-the-counter medicines with us. (I didn't find the medicine section) Here is a picture that shows about 1/4 of the laundry detergents that were available. I know that they were for laundry, but would have no idea the difference between the brands!

I'm sure that there are many typos, but I'm going to claim crazy sleepiness to excuse myself from them.

Oh yeah, the answer to the lions. The female is on the left (notice she is playing with a lion cub, signifying motherhood) and the male is on the right (he's playing with the earth, showing his power).

One more thing, my email is not working here in Beijing, so if you wrote something, please don't expect a reply any time soon. Maybe in Guangzhou, which is the day after tomorrow, which is the day we meet Kylie ~ WOW!!!


Anonymous said...

WOW looks like you guys are having a great time and getting to see and do a lot. Be safe and tell the "Miller/Shultz Crew" hello.

Allison said...

Great post!!! I'm glad you are having fun! I think it was about a hundred degrees the day we went to the Summer Palace! Sleep well! One more day!

Anonymous said...

Hi guys! WE love you and are praying you through every step of the way. I sent you an email but now I know you didn't get it. Yesterday, Friday, we all spent the day cuddled up here at home! :) It sure is cold! See you and talk to you soon!

Love to you all. Bekah

Anonymous said...

Hey you two!!
We cannot wait to hear ALL about the moment you get to put that precious girl in your arms!!! :) We are with you every step of the way!
Love, Gladhill's

Jeff and Valerie said...

What a fabulous recap of your adventure! Great pictures too!