Journey to Zoe

Sunday, July 17, 2005

We made it - Beijing!

Bill: After a 14 hour flight....Portland to Tokyo to Beijing we're here and just a little bit sleepy. The flight was actually pretty nice as we were in business class and I actually had legroom enough to lay my seat perfectly flat to sleep! (I got about 4 hrs total)

Flying in to Beijing at night was strange...there were very few lights on in this city of over 17,000,000 people. But we landed and got through customs without any issues.

We were met by Maggie one of our guides for our duration in China. We got to our hotel (Raddison) at about 10pm and went straight to bed.

In the morning we met fellow adopting families from our group and had breakfast a the hotel (Chinese buffet style) Ever had congee before? Me niether. It tastes like watery rice soup.

Justine wants to talk about our tour stuff but I have to preempt it with the weather conditions....
#1 S M O G !
Oh my GOD the smog is horrendous here! thick thick thick thick thick. LA is a breath of fresh air compared to Beijing. Every day in Beijing was "sunny" so the photos tell the story. Again let me repeat...there was NO CLOUDS in Beijing in the photos (also no snow it might was 95 degrees)
#2 very warm 95 degrees as I mentioned
#3 humid probably about 80-90% humidity. Not life threating (except the smog) but imagine hiking up the Great wall of China in that weather.

Ok here is Justine.... bye for now from billyg


The flight was GREAT! We had massaging seats!! Very fun.

Our first day in Beijing our guides kept us very busy - I think to keep us from feeling the exhaustion of our trip over.
First Stop - The Great Wall - This had a nice veiw - would have been a breathtaking and spectacular view if it were not for the SMOG - as Bill said. Parts of this wall were built dating back to 400BC - some parts are well maintained - for tourists, other parts are original and very dangerous. The wall itself has some amazing steep sections, very hard to walk - everyone walked at an angle I had never seen people do before.

Second Stop - Jade Factory - I cannot imagine sweat shops being any worse than this place - but possible. We were given a tour of where they design, cut, carve and polish jade - of course you can buy things here too - way overpriced.

Third Stop - Lunch and the Friendship store. Chinese food, to my surprise I have enjoyed something from every meal. The Friendship store is a government run tourist trap - basically - many things to buy.

Fourth Stop - Summer Palace - this is quite lovely, many trees and plants, river - very serene. (Jack and Maddy - this is where the bridge is that Big Bird's dog fell into the river) We were given a boat ride to our restaurant from the Summer Palace.
(The Summer Palace is where the Emporer would spend his summers.)

Next - home.

Day two in Beijing -
1st stop - Tinamin Square (I am probably spelling many of our stops incorrect - I am too tired to look them up right now). This is where Mao is buried. This guy is very well respected - You would have thought we were at Disneyland with all the people who were lined up to pay thier respects to him - not to mention all the other tourists, like ourselves who were just their to see some of the buildings.

2nd stop - Lunch.

3rd Stop - Forbidden city - This is where the Emporer lived. Many, Many large, extravgant, rarely used buildings in their time. Now open to the public for viewing. Everything in China seems to have a meaning or superstition. Prosperity, longevity and money are all extremely important. Numbers, different cuts of jade, animals - both real and mythical, and colors all have meaning here.
There were many beggers here - they would follow you and not give up. One woman was holding a child and hit our guide with his head when she asked her to leave us all alone. She later explained that these are often times not even their children that they are using to do the begging.

4th stop - Pearl factory - much better pricing. We got to learn about the growing and harvesting of pearls and how they get their natural color.

5th stop - Peking Duck dinner - To my surprise this was very tasty.

Beijing in general is a very poor and smelly place - imagine polution, car exhaust (only 10% of the population have cars, but 10% of 17 million is alot), stale body gas and urine mixed with heavy humid air and you have the smell of Beijing. Also, babies and toddlers tend not to wear pants of any kind, they just run around with shirts on and go to the bathroom where ever they are walking.

We leave in the morning at 6:20 to catch our flight. It is 2.5 hours to Changsha - we should get Zoe at about 3pm.

Will right more then.

Thank you all for your prayers, I have not gotten sick at all and have had the engergy I have needed. Bill is also doing great and is really enjoying the food.


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