Saturday, April 3, 2010

I beg the travel gods forgiveness

Great Wall

As a general rule when I travel, I do not like to eat at American fast food restaurants. Why would I eat at McDonald's when I can get that anywhere in any US city? I must confess that although I did not eat at McDonald's, I did not think I could eat one more plate of rice with vegetables and chicken, so I allowed myself to be led into Pizza Hut. Grayson of course was ecstatic and enjoyed a pepperoni pizza. Geoff and I ordered pasta and it was very tasty. We got it to go and ate it in our hotel room. The concierge was disappointed in me. He kept saying but there is such a good Szechuan restaurant there or good Hong Kong restaurant or good Malay restaurant. They were all good but sadly, to me, last night, they were all Chinese food. I think someone could make a fortune here opening a real Italian restaurant.

The travel gods may smile when they note I have mastered the Chinese style toilet, complete with squatting, and I can dismiss rude venders and street beggers with my flawless Chinese. Even though I know the Chinese have now seen many many westerners and we are not so special, as we might have been say, 10 years ago, I still feel very different and very other. I have a real appreciation for people who come to my country and try to make their way around. How hard it must be to see only letters and signs and faces that look so different.
 Beginning the Climb

 Grayson climbing the Great Wall

Geoff, Grayson, and Amy at Great Wall watchtower

Yesterday, today and tomorrow are a holiday in China. Ching Ming is tomb sweeping day(s) (similar to Memorial day or Day of the Dead), so many Chinese were on the roads visiting cultural attractions as we were. Traffic was tight and slow. We went to a jade store (special price for you...mother adopting Chinese baby) and the Great Wall of China. We also saw the emperor's summer palace and got to have a great Chinese feast served on a lazy susan.

 Tang Dynasty Summer Palace

Crowds at Summer Palace

 Woman selling grilled sweet potatoes

The crowds at the Great Wall and the Summer Palace were overwhelming. Tour buses and tour guides everywhere. Geoff and Gray climbed up the steepest section of the tower and the crowds began to thin out there. I went with them for about three towers. The view was beautiful but hazy. The steps are all very high and uneven and I was nervous about climbing down. I did not want to fall down those steps! A Chinese man stopped me to practice his English which I loved.

Today we pack and fly to Jiangxi Province where tomorrow we will receive our little Tessa. We are in good company with four other families who have been lovely to know. Yesterday, two other families joined us for the day for sightseeing. They will stay in Beijing another day and then go to different provinces. One family is getting a son and the other a second daughter. After that they will join us again in Ghuangzhou for the final paperwork.

For Vance: At the supermarket yesterday, Grayson went to pick out a drink for dinner and got a "Huiyan Juizee pop". It seems to be a kind of lemon soda. He proclaimed, "this is the kind of thing that Vance would bring us." So perhaps the travel gods liked that as well.

(PS. I saw the Farmer's market in Bloomington was up and running again. Spring here seems to be a week or so behind us. Cherry blossoms just out and Magnolias are still tight buds. No tulips or daffodils that I have seen yet.)

Thanks for all your good wishes. We are safe and happy and healthy and awaiting each day as it comes. Happy Easter for my friends and family who celebrate this day! I have not seen a single church here. I know there are a few but definitely not as common as in any town in Europe or the USA.


  1. I am reading and cheering you on, can't wait for you to get your sweet Tessa!! Just got home yesterday and feeling so blessed!

  2. I love the photos, especially the one of Grayson on the Great Wall! Yay! Thank you for the updates.

  3. Great photos and storytelling. What a big day today! MKP