China Day 2 and half of 3: The Great Wall, Jade Factory, and the Bullet Train

So far I’ve typed a blog from a plane, now it’s time for a blog from a train. We are currently on the bullet train from Beijing to Zhengzhou, cruising along at something like 180 mph. The China country side is flying by my window and it’s so nice to see green after being in the city.

 

Josh and our friends climbed all the way up to the first tower.  Two of our friends climbed even beyond that.  It was about 98 degrees and 99% humidity and they were sweaty messes.

Josh and our friends climbed all the way up to the first tower. Two of our friends climbed even beyond that. It was about 98 degrees and 99% humidity and they were sweaty messes.

This is a beacon tower.  If you've ever watched Mulan, you know that these were used to send messages and the people who manned these towers would light them to let the next tower know that someone was coming so they could be prepared.  To spread a message along the whole Wall took 3-4 hours.

This is a beacon tower. If you’ve ever watched Mulan, you know that these were used to send messages and the people who manned these towers would light them to let the next tower know that someone was coming so they could be prepared. To spread a message along the whole Wall took 3-4 hours.

 

 

Yesterday we went to the Great Wall and the jade factory. The Great Wall is AMAZING. To think it was built by hand is incredible. We went to a section of the wall called the Juyongguan Pass, which they said was less crowded then some of the other sections. I simply can’t imagine it having been more crowded then it was, so I am glad we went there. You pull into the parking lot and just see this massive crush of humanity headed up to the tower at the top of the hill. I was thinking that I wanted to climb up, so I headed that way with the other people from my group who were going, and we headed up. There are a series of steps and landings before you get to the actual climbing part of the Wall, and just getting up there was tough, so we took a short break at the beginning and then headed up. I got about a 16th of the way, turned around and looked at how steep it was going to be coming down and I couldn’t do it. Going up would be fine, but coming down would be petrifying. Not to mention that there were thousands of people climbing at the same time and if you get bumped once, you become a human bowling ball with thousands of pins. Nope, nope, nope. So Josh, and 5 other people from our travel group pressed on and I waited at the bottom with my friend Teresa. I got to see pictures and that was enough for me. Josh got to the top and went to the top of the tower, accessed by a ladder like stairway, and was only up there with 7 other people, so was able to have the whole place sort of to himself, which was cool. He also said that as he was coming down, he didn’t look out too much, just stayed focused on the steps in front of him, but that there were people who came down at the same time who were running down the middle like it was no big deal, some of them with babies or toddlers on their backs. I can’t imagine. When we were waiting we saw one girl boost herself into one of the lookout spaces for a picture, like it wasn’t thousands and thousands of feet down if she fell. People are CRAZY, here and everywhere.

 

After that, we went to the jade factory, which has an attached restaurant, and our guide ordered for us, so we got a ton of different dishes, which were all wonderful. It was nice to not have to think so much about what to eat and to let someone else do it for us. Then we went to the jade factory and did some shopping, but I can’t talk too much about it since it’s all gifts. It was a great experience and I’m glad we got to go.

 

Then we headed back to the hotel and rested for a while, and eventually ventured out for dinner. Some friends from our group had found a place the night before that they loved, so we went there, and it was so, so good. We were the only white people there, always a good sign in my book.

 

When we got back to the hotel, we were told that the President of CCAI, Joshua Zhong, was in Beijing and was coming to the hotel to meet with us just to see how our trip was going. So we got to meet Josh and thank him in person for the amazing things CCAI does, which was awesome. I cannot say enough good things about CCAI. They are the best, and I can’t imagine having done this without them and their help.

 

Then we went back and went to sleep. Sleep still isn’t coming super easy right now, so we are TIRED. We’ve been in bed by 8 most nights, and up by around 4, if not earlier. This morning, we got up on purpose at 4 to meet in the lobby by 5:30 to take the train to Zhengzhou.

 

So, about the train. We’d been told that the actual train was awesome, but getting to and through the station was stressful. Thankfully, we had a bus to take us to the station, and our guide took us through as far as she was able. I absolutely cannot imagine doing something like that for the first time ever with no one to help us. It would have been a nightmare. But she prepped us well and we knew exactly where to go and what to do, so it was chaotic, but manageable for sure. And now that we’re on the train, it’s AMAZING. Leg room, scenery, good company. We’re good. We’ll see what I say once we have to get off and find our way out.

These are all the people waiting to get on the train.  We were in the midst of the chaos waiting our turn to go through.  It was pretty intense, but more orderly then you'd expect.

These are all the people waiting to get on the train. We were in the midst of the chaos waiting our turn to go through. It was pretty intense, but more orderly then you’d expect.

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Here is what the train looks like. It’s no Hogwarts Express, but it’ll do. 🙂

 

Tomorrow is the BIG DAY, JIA DAY!!! We will leave to meet her at 9:30 Monday morning in China, so 9:30 Sunday night in the US.  We would really appreciate your prayers for us (your) tonight.  She will likely be confused and scared and sad that we’re not her foster family, and that’s all okay.  We just want this to be as easy a transition as possible for her and for her to feel safe with us.  You can also be praying for all of the other families in our group, three of whom are first time parents.  We are ecstatic, nervous, excited, and a million other emotions. But mostly we’re just ready. Let’s get this beautiful girl with us and then HOME. It’s almost go time! My next update will likely be our Family Day post and I can’t wait to share it with you!