Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Great Wall and tomorrow is Julia day!!!

Jason and I right before we trekked up the Great Wall.

I haven't been able to post again until now because today was a travelling day. We're now at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Zhengzhou, which is the capital city in Henan province (Julia's province). Tomorrow at 9 a.m. we go to the Civil Affairs office to get her! We're very excited and can't wait. I think it goes without saying that I probably won't sleep well tonight. All of the parents-to-be in our group are on pins and needles right now.
In the meantime, I'll fill you in on yesterday. It was another extremely busy day and we toured for approximately 13 (!) hours. We left the hotel just after 8 a.m. and didn't return until after 9 p.m. Jason and I were so tired that we ordered room service dinner and went to bed.
We started the day by going to the Jade Factory. The jade was so beautiful and we were very tempted to get a large piece for our home but I doubt it would have made it back to Atlanta in the same condition.

We then went to the Great Wall, which is just unbelievable. Our guide told us the Great Wall is about 4,000 miles long. Jason and I did pretty well with it even though we're a couple of out-of-shape police officers. We made it to the second tier and I don't exactly know how far that is, but someone mentioned the distance to the first tier was more than 600 steps, to give you an idea. The steps were uneven and very steep, so it was quite a challenge. The effort was worth it though because the view was fantastic.

After the Great Wall we went to lunch at a local restaurant. The food was very good but we didn't try anything out of the ordinary this time. After lunch they took us to see the Bird's Nest and the Cube which, of course, was very neat to see. We couldn't go inside this time because a delegation from the Chinese government was in town.

We then went to a local spa where those who wanted a massage paid $45 for a 90-minute full body massage. Jason and I opted to walk around the local neighborhoods and soak in the culture. It was very neat to watch people in their daily lives without the tourist distractions around. People were very nice and curious, of course, as to why these crazy Americans were in their neighborhoods. The area had a very cozy, neighborly feeling to it and we were very glad we went. We also found a newpaper/magazine stand on a street corner and bought a Disney Mickey cartoon magazine in Chinese, which was wrapped in plastic and we will give it to Julia.

By the time the others finished their massages it was time to go to the acrobatics show at 7:15. By that time we were so tired that we dozed off during part of it. The show, or what we saw of it, was very good though.

So, that was our day. Below are a few more pictures that we hope you'll enjoy.
Jason and I at the end of our climb. See, we don't look like we're about to pass out, do we?

This is the section of the Great Wall that we climbed. We made it to the second tier (third from the right).

This picture gives you an idea of how steep the Great Wall is in some sections.

China has some very interesting architecture. This building is actually an upscale hotel across from the Bird's Nest. The guide told us Bill Gates rented the top penthouse here during the Olympics.

The Cube where the swimming competition was held during the Olympics.

The Bird's Nest, of course. By the way, it wasn't an overcast day. That is the smog.

This is one of the neighborhoods that we walked through. No, we didn't stick out AT ALL.

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