Friday, August 7, 2009

Our first full day in China

We started off the morning the best way possible - good food. We went to the breakfast at the Grand Hyatt. It was so yummy! Good cheese, fruit, mini sandwiches, pork buns, croissants, pastries were all present. I ate more than my share for sure. We then met our guide and driver in the hotel lobby for what turned out to be a very long, but wonderful day. Our first stop was the traditional hutong neighborhood in Beijing. We toured around on a rickshaw and made stops to walk through some streets and visit with a family who lives in a hutong home. The family had a 14 year old granddaughter that lived with them and she had turtles, snails, and goldfish for pets so Ellie was really intrigued by those animals.

We then stopped at Prince Gong's palace to walk through the grounds and the garden. It was beautiful, but very crowded. We got rained on a bit, but we hid out for a few minutes under an overhang and stayed relatively dry. We did have our first experience here with people wanting to take pictures with Ellie. She initially wasn't sure about it, but by the end of the day she was a bit of a ham with it.

After the palace, we went to the jade factory. For my husband, who's favorite show is how it's made, this was an enjoyable stop. I'll admit, it was amazing to see the intricacy of these jade carvings, but it felt like a bit of a hard sell to me. We did end up buying a beautiful jade family ball here though. I wanted to put up some pictures of this, but it's too bundled up for safety to get a good pic without a lot of effort. The other issue with the jade factory was the fact that Ellie was too interested for her own good. She wanted to "take pictures" of everything and I was constantly worried she would knock over a multi thousand dollar statue that we'd end up having to pay for. After the jade factory we went to the Cloissonne shop, browsed, and had lunch. Lunch was pretty good, there was A LOT of food. Ellie ate lots of dumplings and watermelon. There was also some traditional Chinese "wine". It was 110 proof and we all nearly choked with just a sip of it. There was a definite burn.

After lunch, we headed out to The Great Wall. This was definitely the highlight of the day, for me at least. Mom, Ellie and I hiked up pretty high. Jason made it all the way up to the main tower, but I think he regretted it later. Ellie was a trooper and walked way farther than I would have thought. I think one of the most amazing things about the wall was how many people were there. It was a bit overwhelming. The drive home from the wall was the worst part of the day. It took over two and a half hours due to traffic. Ellie was exhausted. In her world this looks like hyperactivity. She sang and talked and wiggled for two and a half hours straight. Definitely not the worst thing that could have happened, but it added to all of our exhaustion. We were supposed to go to the acrobat show last night, but we ended up crashing again instead. Mom took the brunt of it and gave Ellie a bath and put her to bed while Jason and I slept. We're all up again this morning and getting ready for our second yummy breakfast, more sightseeing, and then finally Lanzhou!


  1. Great pictures! I'm so glad you guys are having such a great time. It's about to get even better. Thinking of you...

  2. Those are awesome pics!!! Just think, one more day until you meet Max!!!!By the way Ellie is so beautiful!!!! She is going to be a great big sissy! You guys will be awesome parenta!!!!

  3. Your posts and pictures are wonderful. When reading your postings it's like I'm there and can see Ellie in the jade shop and Jason walking the wall. Thank Diane for teaching you to be able to express what you see and do into a picture. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.