Joel and I have sensed a calling to international adoption for many years. In May, 2009 God made it abundantly clear that it was time. After much prayer, research and wise counsel we began the process to adopt a daughter from China. God directed us to an incredible agency that was founded by a family with an amazing testimony. This blog is a chronicle of our journey, to inform our friends and family and as a record of events for our daughter to read one day. Join us in the journey... it is sure to be an adventure!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reflections on Two Days in Beijing

I tried to post about 8 hours ago, and the internet wasn't cooperative. We have discovered, as some friends before us did, that we cannot upload photos here in Beijing. I will keep trying, but suspect that this will not change until we arrive in Lanzhou.

Yesterday, Joel and I were able to explore Beijing on our own as we were the first from our agency to arrive. We began our day at our hotel breakfast buffet for an eclectic meal. My plate held pork buns, milk buns, watermelon, baked sweet potato, fried rice, scrambled eggs, bean congee and Spam. Also available were salad, black pickled eggs, pimiento loaf, and pastries.

We then converted some US dollars into Chinese Yuan, and we were ready to explore. We acquired a card from the front desk that has the names of popular destinations and our hotel in Chinese and English. From there, it was simple enough to hail a taxi and point to our desired destination on the card. First we traveled to the Temple of Heaven which was used twice a year in ancient China for offerings made by the Emporer to Celestial bodies, primarily the Sun. It is a beautiful complex with grounds that seem to be a community gathering place. We walked through traditional Chinese gardens filled with ancient Cypress trees and found people playing games, playing instruments, and having sing-a-longs. Since we were at our own pace, it was a truly relaxing time with perfect, if smoky, weather.

Temple of Heaven Courtyards

Temple of Heaven

I fell in love with the detail.

The architecture is amazing.

Dragons are everywhere.

Later we walked down the block to the Pearl Market that Joel had purchased from several years ago. We had fun picking out pearls for a necklace for Grace when she is older. My sweetie even blessed me with a special treasure from Cathie's shop. We watched our sales lady, Stacey, knot our pearl strands.

The Pearl Market. The higher the floor, the more expensive the merchandise.

Stacey hand-knotted our pearls while we watched.

Then, as jet-lag got the best of us, we caught a taxi back to our hotel and found a restraunt with a photo menu for dinner. It is nice to be able to point out what you want to eat when no one can understand a word that you say :)

This morning began with a similar breakfast selection. Then, we met other families from our agency for some touring. We are the only family from the East Coast in our group. We are also the only ones not going to the same province that they are all going to. We will separate on Sunday to travel to our children's provinces, then we will meet back up in another city to process our children's visas.

Our first event of the day was a rickshaw ride through a traditional hutong, which is an ancient neigborhood with tiny streets, over 600 years old. These neighborhoods were only available to members of the royal bloodline or members of the court. The only way to live in one now is to be the descendant of one of those families. Our rickshaw driver was an older gentleman with a sense of humor. He thought he was Mario Andretti, and kept racing past the others in our group and giggling about it. He also like grabbing onto the back of other rickshaws to make it harder for their drivers to pedal.

A view in the Hutong.

Our guide, George.

Waiting Rickshaws.

Bike outside a home.

A pet?

We then visted a shop to see how silk cocoons are processed by hand into fabric. Of course, there were many lovely silk items available for purchase there. Lunch took place at a restaurant run by one of the 55 minority groups in China, the Dai. The food was very nice. We learned that Kung Pao Chicken is a Dai dish. My favorite was duck meat, breaded in something I couldn't identify and fried to resemble a giant hush puppy.

Silk web being pulled to become a comforter.

Cocoons are soaked and then pulled apart over these hoops to stretch and dry.

Next our great guide, George, took us to Tiannamen Square and the Forbidden City. All I can say is that they are both massive. The Forbidden City was the residence of the Emporer in ancient China, and consisted of 9,999 1/2 rooms. (That 1/2 kept him from equalling the Jade Emporer, his father, whose palace in heaven had 10,000 rooms.) We learned much history today, and walked about 10 miles (maybe a tiny exaggeration).
A Lovely Garden Behind the Forbidden City.

Fu Lion in the Forbidden City.


~In the US we drive defensively, Chinese drive offensively...this makes for crazy traffic but few accidents. They are not distracted drivers. Even though signs and signals seem to be merely suggestions, none of the cars are banged up or scratched. Bicycle riders are fearless!
And, bicycles are everywhere!

~Street Vendors: Wow can they be persistent! Our guide calls them mosquitos. Many are hucksters, and we have been taught to completely ignore them. If you even say no in response, it causes them to follow you longer. Can you believe that you can get a Rolex on the street in China for $5? WOW! :)

This fruit was for sale everywhere. We never learned what it was.

~Ancient Culture: It is astounding to think that the buildings we were standing in today were over 600 years old. We saw porcelain and Jade from the Ming Dynasty, that's the 1400's. How does something so fragile survive so long? Being from a relatively young country, it is almost too difficult to comprehend.

~Beijing is very eclectic: Our breakfast isn't the only thing that is eclectic here. Beijing is a global community. This would explain the Reggae bar that we saw in the 600 year-old hutong. The architecture reflects this as well. Ultra-modern buildings are interspersed among ancient buildings. Some high-rises look similar to a US big city, and some are topped with a pagoda-style roof.

That's more than enough for now! Tomorrow we visit the Great Wall, a Jade factory, and an acrobatics show. Then, the next day, we travel to Lanzhou alone to meet our baby girl...we're almost there, sweetie!

Guess what we brought to China with us?

A stinkbug...since they are native to Asia, this guy is just visiting his homeland :)

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