Day 8 (short version):
~To the Great Wall
~Hike up part of the way
~Good luck padlock on the Wall
~Dinner at McDonald’s
~Szechuan chicken sandwich?
Day 8 (long version):
With the rain beating down on us yesterday, we were expecting more of the same weather today. However, Mother Nature decided that we had had enough rain, so she cleared the skies completely and gave us weather in the mid-nineties. It was hot! But, with the nice clear skies, it was a great time to hike the Great Wall.
We met about six other Holt families in the lobby in the morning and climbed onto a bus headed north of Beijing for the Great Wall. The bus ride took about one hour and gave us time to introduce ourselves and get to know the other families. The Ladybug found a couple new friends around her age, all boys. They were all fast friends.
Last time we visited the Great Wall in 2006, we went to a place called Badaling. Because it is a common place for tourists to visit, I figured that we would be headed there today. But much to my surprise, we made our way to a different part of the Wall, a section called Juyongguan (darn, it was so much easier pronouncing the other place). This section was absolutely gorgeous and stretched over the road onto both sides of the mountain. At the valley of the mountain was a beautiful reservoir where thousands of colorful fish swam freely. It was a beautiful site, and one that is very different from Badaling.
After taking the typical group photo at the base of the mountain, we started our ascent toward the top. Nana made it up part way, but as the steps got steeper and much taller she opted to go back down. The Ladybug, Daddy, and I climbed a little higher together to a section where we came across a large chain that had thousands upon thousands of padlocks attached to it. Chinese custom is that you place a lock on the chain for “good luck and prosperity.” We purchased a really nice lock, which they engraved with our names and the date, and found the perfect spot to affix it to the chain… right under the shade of a large, lush tree. The Ladybug did he honors for our family by looping the top of the lock around the chain and then locking it closed. Great job!
The three of us made it a little bit further up the mountain, but the heat was really getting to the Ladybug so she and I decided to begin descending the mountain and make our way to the ice cream shop at the bottom. Daddy on the other hand still had a lot of “umph” in him so he continued his ascent toward the top. The Bug and I easily made our way back down and quickly found Nana in the air conditioned gift shop where the three of us enjoyed a delicious ice cream. It was just what we needed to help cool ourselves off after the rising heat and scorching sun.
Eventually Daddy and the other people from our group made their way back down the mountain. We all piled back onto the bus and headed toward a cloisonné factory and “Friendship Store” for lunch and a little bit of shopping. The lunch was delicious. Shortly after many people in the group finished their meals, they headed into the gift shop to do some shopping. Not feeling the shopping bug myself, I opted to stay at the table and visit with a couple families. Daddy and the bug stayed as well. We talked with two other families and enjoyed some nice Chinese beer with our conversation. After our amazing morning at the Wall, this was a nice way to unwind.
(Photos of the cloisonné process)
After lunch we were all taken to the Hu Tong area of Beijing. The Hu Tong is an amazing area that dates back hundreds of years. In it are many little houses with courtyards that are highly regarded in the Chinese culture. To travel through the Hu Tong we all piled onto rickshaws and we were driven through the tiny roads that meander their way through the area. Riding on one of these rickshaws is quite an experience because as we are making our way through Hu Tong, we are also dodging pedestrians, dodging cars, avoiding inanimate objects, and barely avoiding other rickshaws. It is a crazy ride that everyone should experience when they visit Beijing. At one point we stopped at a person’s house and were invited in to ask questions and learn more about the area. The Ladybug found a new little friend while there, a little dog named Bibi. The Bug is normally very afraid of dogs and steers clear, but something about this dog warmed her heart. By the end of our visit the bug was ready to take this little dog home (sorry kiddo).
For dinner this night we opted to walk to the mall and eat somewhere familiar… McDonald’s. I know, seems a little funny to travel half way around the world and eat at a place that we can find at home. But, last summer we did the same thing while in Belgium, and it turned out to be a fun thing to do. In Belgium, McDonald’s actually does not serve a “Quarter Pounder.” People who have seen the movie “Pulp Fiction” may remember that it is called a “Royal with cheese.” Knowing that even something familiar like McDonald’s can be a little different, we decided to see for ourselves.
Surprisingly, most items seemed pretty much the same… then again we couldn’t read the menu to know what the items were called. Instead we were presented with a picture menu where we just pointed to the item(s) or meal that we wanted. My “Quarter Pounder” looked and tasted exactly the same. Daddy’s Big Mac was also just the same, as were the Ladybug’s chicken nuggets. However, Nana's chicken breast sandwich seemed to be Szechuan style. It was so hot that after one bite she couldn’t eat anymore (and truth be told, neither could Daddy. He took a bite thinking that she was just being a bit of a wimp, but he immediately realized that she was not joking). She ended up ordering a Quarter Pounder and enjoyed every last bite. Interestingly, the only thing on the menu that seemed different was the pie. We didn’t see any apple pie, but instead they serve Taro Pie. I just love the desired cuisine of other countries.
Tomorrow will be a great day. We have our agency orientation in the morning. It is at this meeting where we will get to see a recent photo of the Butterfly. I cannot wait! I hope she is doing well. I would love to see her smile, something we have not yet seen in any of her photos. Until then, good night!
18 hours ago