We landed safely and arrived at our hotel around 10pm just in time to talk with our children at home, shower and climb into bed for what seemed like the longest night ever. Finally, 5:00am arrived and we turned on the lights to begin our day!
With a whirlwind, one-day tour of Beijing planned, we joined our guide for the day, David Wang, and another family from Georgia.
This little one could not wait to take in the Great Wall and begged to walk all by herself. The Great Wall is no easy task to tackle even for the sure footed persons who are paying attention....the steps are often very uneven and the crowds can be a bit much to maneuver. Alas, she made it the entire way with a smile on her face!
A special treat for us was riding the ski lift to the top of this section of the Great Wall.
The day was as clear as one can ask for in one of the most polluted cities in the world! You could see for miles and the skies were blue!
The mountains surrounding the Wall were breathtaking.....our guide stated that the one below is called the "Sleeping Man." If you look closely, you can make out his forehead, eye, nose and chin....
The original GW still stands today....
Following our climbing of the wall, I was given a tour down via toboggan sled with Maryn as my driver! She has one speed and one speed only - FAST! And we had to have been the loudest ones on the ride.....her squeals echoed through the mountains as we twisted and sped our way down to the bottom! At the end she begged the non-English speaking man who was helping her off to PLEASE let her go again!
Then it was off to tour a hutong. Hotongs were developed many moons ago for families to all live together with a common courtyard - and there are hutongs after hutongs in Old Beijing though it is not the preferred living arrangement nowadays with the newer generations.
Our pedicab rode us along the streets of the hutongs and I am pretty sure I smelled every "China" smell possible during this time. I am also positively positive that I am glad no one could understand Maryn's shouting out of "Dis doesn't smell good! Why does it smell like that? Mommy, that smell is stinky!" I just smiled and waved as if she was singing her ABCs.
This pic resembles so much. A bike is the number one mode of transportation in Beijing. And to see a child on a bike is like a child at home getting buckled up in their carseat. We spent a lot of time in the van today and I, due to some of the "dizzy head" as my grandmother would call it, got the privilege of riding up front with our driver. I saw whole families on one bike, children standing on bikes between their caregivers legs....and in China no one has the privilege of right-of-way....instead, it is more like, go your own way and it should work out! I state this because as we bumped up and down the streets of Beijing, I can assure you that I tried to take in as much of the beauty of China as possible and the differences in cultures amazes me. Something as simple as a bike parked against a wall reminded me to appreciate every moment here and soak up the differences in culture.
A traditional family hutong....to the left is where the sisters would live in the skinny long part.....the larger part in front of it is where the parents would live, top center is where the first born son would be designated to live and the bottom center is for any other son.....the courtyard is a common area in which they all share.
The Forbidden City is the largest hutong! Though we did not visit the Forbidden City directly, we did go to a park and climb to the top of a tower for an overview.
And, with a view of the Forbidden City in the background of her daily baths, what little girl wouldn't beg for bubble bath after bubble bath?!?!
While today has been full of greatness, we do ask for prayers specifically for our health and to overcome jet lag before we get Chapman! We struggled a bit today but trust that tomorrow we will awake to feeling nothing but refreshed!