So I should have mentioned last night that when we arrived at Beijing Intl Airport we were greeted by our very friendly guide Michael and our driver Mr. Huo. They have been so fantastic to take us all around Beijing today and they will do the same again tomorrow. Here is a photo of Michael - and yes we gave him a CFA hat and t-shirt as well as our driver and the guy who arranged our tours. We had a good friend who works for CFA write out in Chinese characters what CFA was - it was helpful I think and Michael said Annie has better handwriting then he does. I can't wait to tell Annie!! Here is a picture of Michael teaching us some basic Chinese characters.
We began the morning with a tour of the Great Wall. There are several places that you can stop around the wall. We were able to climb up of course not all of the way and then come back down. I must say going up was easier than coming down. No two steps are the same height and the passage way can sometimes be very narrow. It definitely was not for the faint of heart!! It was such a neat experience and I am so glad to be able to say that I have done that. Nathan and I studied early Chinese History this year and it was so fascinating seeing so many of the different things we talked about come to life. Add the benefit of being able to tell Linnea more about her Chinese culture and it was just fabulous!
After climbing the Great Wall we headed to a jade market which had a restaurant attached upstairs. I have to say I did not know very much about jade and it was very informative and pretty fascinating. When the Olympic games were held here in Beijing in 2008 each medal that was awarded to the athletes contained jade in it. There are all different colors of jade and each one has a different meaning. You can see here the medals with the jade in them. Jade is a very translucent jewel and that is one of the ways you can tell if it is of good or poor quality.
After touring the jade market we had some traditional Chinese lunch - chicken and fried rice and then we headed off to the Olympic Village. What a sight!! Loved seeing the Birds Nest and the Water Cube in person!!
Nathan, Luke and Ethan - these last two pictures above are for you guys!! Those are some army men and there are tons of Mcdonalds here!! You would love it!!
After leaving the Olympic Village we went to a silk market - also super cool for a chick who is totally into sewing!! Loved seeing the silk trade route and how silk comes to be made into blankets, clothes, etc. I could have gone crazy in this store but I was totally reserved and walked out empty handed!! I am sure there will be places I can bargain for silk - so don't worry Nate - I will be sure to get you some silk clothes!! Here was a sample of the silk fabric you could buy..... and then the picture below is of the actual silk.
After all that we had about and hour to chill and then we were off to an acrobat show. At first I wasn't really sure about this but let me tell you it was fantastic!! Michael told us "seeing is believing." He was so right!! These people were amazing!!!! We took a few videos but the connection is very slow right now so a few pictures will have to do.
And last but not least we were able to meet with some friends of a friend who are like-minded and doing work over here in China. We had such a fun time!! They took us to a great Chinese restaurant and we had some really good traditional Chinese food eating with our chopsticks. And we had such great conversations. What an encouragement!!! We are so thankful to have met some new friends!! We really enjoyed the food, well except for dessert - red bean ice - not so yummo - but the fellowship was priceless. Thanks to Laura for hooking us up!!
So after dinner we hitched a ride in a taxi all by ourselves paying our driver was an adventure but it all worked out. We were looking for a Starbucks but when we got in there it was closed so we hitched another taxi and came back to the hotel. It is almost midnight here and I must at least try and go to sleep!! Tomorrow we head to a pearl market, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and Temple of Heaven and then we have to catch a plane to Guangzhou where we will meet our sweet girl soon. Not too much longer!! Catch you tomorrow!