I tried to post yesterday but the internet went down as I tried to publish it so I'll try again. First off, here's a picture of Jess. She smiles and laughs a lot but doesn't really like her picture being taken so it's hard to get one of her smiling. She was in an especially happy mood here. These pictures were taken in Jinan at our hotel.
Flight to China
Our flight wasn't too bad. We caught an early flight out of Boston (8 am opposed to 9) and had lunch at the Chicago Airport. Our Chicago-Beijing flight was a little delayed. We met up with the other family from MA that we'll be traveling with there. Boston-Chicago we went economy but Chicago-Beijing, we got to go economy plus thanks to Nicky. Those extra five inches make a huge deal!! We slept a little but it wasn't easy.
What an awesome place! We met our guide at the airport. Her name's Candy; she said she chose her English name because it's sweet and everyone loves candy. We waited a little for the other couple traveling with us who were flying in from CA. When they came through security, we all yelled and waved so that they'd see us. We stayed at the Wang Fu Jing Grand Hotel. It's close to the Forbidden City. It was very nice. Here's a pic of Jason in the lobby.
We visited the jade factory, the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. I bought a ball in a ball at the jade factory; it's amazing how someone can carve a ball within a ball from a single piece of jade. The tour guide was interesting but moved very quickly and didn't want anyone lingering. She told us that people rub different parts of the jade buddha - ears for long life, head for knowledge, and belly for health. The Great Wall was amazing. I'd seen pictures, of course, before but nothing can compare to seeing it in person. I can't even phathom how those poor people were able to build it. The stairs are very uneven - some only an inch or so high and others half a foot or so. There are indentations from the thousands of people walking on them. Mike and Jason made it to the top of the area we went to (Ba Da Ling). I made it to the second tower only having to use my inhaler once. I walked back down and waited with Sharon (another woman in our adoption group). Going up was hard on the lungs; going down was hard on the knees. My legs shook for several minutes after I was finished. Jason was stopped three times to get his picture taken with people. He loved the attention although it did seem a bit strange to have his picture taken with strangers. The locks on the wall are put their by couples who want their love to last as long as the Wall.
We went to an acrobat show one night. It was awesome!! I can't believe how flexible these people are and how they can move their bodies.
It's hard to get a good pic but this is of a girl who is lying on her belly with her arms and legs extended behind her and her head up. She has these chandelier-type objects balanced on her head and each hand and foot.
The Forbidden City has 9,999 rooms. Our guide said that if someone slept in one room each night, it'd taken 27 years to go through each room! There were 5 doors leading into the City. The middle one is the biggest and is where the Emperor enters. The Emperor's wife only gets to go through this door on her wedding day. The doors on either side of the middle one are for royalty and the outer doors on either side are for high ranking officials. Low ranking officials and commoners weren't allowed in.
A lot of restoration is being done in preparation for the Olympics. Here's a pic of an area of the palace undergoing renovation. There's a painted screen in front showing what it will look like.
China is getting ready for the 2008 Olympics. The mascots for the Olympics are the Five Friendlies. Their names are Bei Bei, Jing Jing, Huan Huan, Ying Ying, and Ni Ni. If you take the first syllable of each name, it says “Beijing welcomes you in Mandarin Chinese. The Five Friendlies are a panda, a Tibetan antelope, a swallow, a fish and the spirit of the Olympic flame. There’s a mascot for each color of the Olympic rings and they stand for the sea, forests, fire, earth and air. There's merchandise everywhere with these little guys on it.