a last bit of culture

After exerting ourselves walking out four watch towers (and of course back) at the Great Wall at Mutainyu we were all feeling a bit hungry.  The girls, my mom and I loaded into one cable car...

watching the second car come over the edge behind us
...while Ian, the boys, his mom and our guide piled into the second.

reminds me of the cable cars at Les Deux Alpes...minus the snow and the skis
Once we were all situated on our Toyota Coaster, David gave us our choice of either a full Chinese meal (at the bargain cost of about $7 per adult and $3.50 per child) or McDonalds.  While I was seriously ready for a burger at that point, we knew that my brother-in-law was slated to grill for us on Saturday night, so we decided to hold out on a taste of the west.  Besides, if we had missed that last Chinese meal, we would not have learned just how much Natalie likes cucumbers!

she kept spinning the lazy susan around to get another spoonful of marinated cucs!
Before we left the restaurant, there was a cloisonne factory to check out.  The process is fascinating and we were able to watch artisans working on their craft in several stages.

Caleb said his favorite was watching the women delicately glue the curved wire to the vase.  They worked with such precision and attention to detail!

I thought the application of color was amazing.  They grind the minerals into powder and add water to make the "paint."  Then eyedroppers are used to fill in the areas between the wires.

The piece is allowed to dry and then fired at very high heat and then the process is repeated eight times until the dried enamel totally fills the area between the wires.

Because of the time involved in each handmade piece, the prices are astronomical.  But it sure is beautiful...I bought a Christmas ornament to remember our visit.

Next came the decision on how to finish out our day.  Originally we considered stopping by Olympic Village to walk around as Ian, Kylie and I visited in October of 2008 at the beginning of Caleb's trip.  We thought the boys especially would appreciate seeing where the Olympic runners had sprinted in their home country, but as we headed back to the city, it became apparent that they were pretty tired.

caleb taking a little siesta under his favorite souvenir.
So we took David's recommendation and headed to the acrobat show.  Ian and I had seen it back in 2007 at the beginning of Kylie's trip, but we were suffering severe jet lag that night and slept through much of it.  We weren't sure how much the kids would enjoy the show, but it proved to be a highlight of the trip for several of them.  The acts defied gravity and, it seemed, human flexibility and strength.  We all sat with mouths agape through much of the performance.

By the time we returned to the hotel, we had been out for nearly twelve hours and it was time to bathe and head to bed.  It had been a long, exhausting, day, but we are so glad we had time for one last little bit of culture in the fascinating land our children come from!

**thursday, september 12**


likeschocolate said...

I can only imagine! I would love to see the acrobats, but worry that with the time change we will fall asleep. Guess we will see how it goes.

Cindy M said...

I would kind of like to see that again...I remember it vaguely, mostly by the photo proof I had of being there. I mostly remember trying not to fall asleep! Sounds like the end of the trip was a much better time to go! We saw some here in Indy once, and Caroline was fascinated! What a great trip you all had!

Anne said...

Beading is my favorite hobby & I love to use Cloissone beads when the design calls for them. I had no idea the process of making was so huge! No wonder they cost a lot!!

I loved following you throughout your journey to Natalie. I hope she's settling in without too much grief. Thanks for sharing!!

Anne in Colorado

Traci Cline said...

The artistry is amazing in those vases!... oh the alpes... I could do some skiing.. However I WILL NOT sit and wait for you guys to go to the top! lol
So special that your kids are so familiar with their culture!

Laurie said...

I'm too impatient to enjoy this post. i just want to see all the girls on the bunk beds!! :) But seriously, loved the picture of Caleb asleep with the hat on (too cute!), and the show looked fun. We were too tired to attend back in '06... always kind of regretted not going.