blogspot has been blocked, so this is a blog sent from my email. If it's formatted funny that is why.
Yesterday was our last day in Beijing and it was another busy one. We were all up early again and went to the yummy Grand Hyatt breakfast again. Jason, Ellie and I then went down for one last swim in the pool. Ellie is really starting to get good at swimming. She can put her head under, paddle, and kick, and stay afloat for a couple of feet. Compare this to last year when she wouldn't even put her face in the water. We then went upstairs to pack, and then frantically rearranged and weighed our bags to meet the weight limits for the in country flights. We then met Ike our guide and our driver for a quick tour of the city. First stop was Tiananmen square. I think the most amazing thing about this was just how many people there were. The only event that I can think of that I've been to with that many people was the Inauguration. That was a huge event. This was just a regular day, and according to our guide, not a particularly busy day. We then walked over to the Forbidden City. We had to wait for our guide to buy tickets which took quite a while. Once he got back we walked through the Forbidden City. It was much warmer than the day before and it felt like we walked about 3 miles. Ike said it was only about a mile and a half though. It also may have felt like longer since I carried Ellie about half of the way and we were constantly surrounded by people. Now, even though I did carry Ellie quite a while, don't think she's a wimp. She has been the toughest little four year old on this trip. We had already probably walked a mile or so through Tiananment square, and it was really hot and humid, and she didn't whine once. Plus, there is only one place inside that sells water and it is at the very far side of the city, so we were all very thirsty. We eventually made it through and met our van on the other side. We then went to eat. We had some chicken and nuts, chicken and cucumber, and pork and mushrooms. It was really tasty. Ellie then got to use her first squatty potty (and so did mommy). For a kid who hates dirty bathrooms she was surprisingly excited by the squatty potty. She did better than I did for sure. After lunch we went to the Temple of Heaven. This was in a really pretty park. There were people dancing, and singing, and playing instruments everywhere. Ellie saw a little girl playing with a big ribbon on a stick and had to join in. Of course, then they wanted to sell us the ribbon. When we were trying to buy it the police came over and started asking questions in Mandarin. Our guide then told us it is illegal to sell things in that park. Great, that's just what we need, to get in trouble with the police before we even get Max! It wasn't a problem though and our guide went back by on the way out and bought the ribbon for Ellie anyways. After that we headed to the airport to catch our flight for Lanzhou. We were the only Westerners on the plane. This will probably be the case when we get to our province too. They still did all of the announcements in English though. Ellie fell asleep as we were taking off and slept through the flight, the trip to the hotel, and then all night long. Jason and I may have dozed on the plane too. We got into Lanzhou and got our bags (the first ones off of the plane - that's a first!) When we walked outside it was dark, cool (about 64 degrees F), and rainy. We drove for about an hour to get to our hotel. There were not many people on the road at all (a stark contrast to Beijing) so I was surprised when we actually got into Lanzhou and found that it's a fairly decent sized city. It has some pretty bridges over the yellow river that were all lit up, but that and the buildings were really all we could see. We got checked into our hotel (all I can say is 5 stars is a relative term) and crashed for the night. This morning we've been up since about 4:30 thanks to Ellie's nap on the plane. We have to get some money changed and make some copies as well as get the room ready for Max. He should be hear about 3pm. I'm really nervous for the first time. I just don't want it to be an awful traumatizing experience for him and unfortunately there's not much I can do to prevent that. Be thinking of us for the next 24 hours.