I got to go to China!! After some discussion with Jon we decided to let me go with a friend. Jamie and I discussed it one night while quilting and then 3 weeks later we were in CHINA!! So glad to have friends who are kind of crazy spontaneous like me.
Leading up to the trip we did family nights and tried out The Shack a local place with crazy ice cream creations. We got a shake that had waffles, peanut butter, nuts, chocolate, caramel and some other things - totally awesome!!
China - we decided to go through IACE the local travel agency since getting visas and traveling in China is not as uncomplicated as other places to travel. The trip we signed up for was 4 days but really about 72 hours from start to finish. We headed out around 3 pm and 8 hours later we were checking into our hotel the Howard Johnson Paragon. The hotel was great it was clean, across the street from the train station, had a mall attached to it and served and amazing breakfast buffet. We had a driver (Mr. Gua) and guide (J.T.) that hung out with us the entire time driving us around and telling us about all the different things we were seeing. While there we walked pass Tianamen Square but couldn't get to close since it was the time of the year when their "Congress" comes to vote. It was interesting to see how BBC was censored while we watched it at night and they gave their take on the congress meeting which was different than the version JT gave us. After Tianamen square we got to go into the Forbidden City which is HUGE! We walked around for a few hours learning the meanings behind much of the artwork which was pretty amazing and getting to hear some interesting stories. After the Forbidden City we got to have lunch which was awesome then we went to the temple of heaven. I was impressed to see all the thought that went into every building and the color and designs but also saddened when you hear how they don't believe they can talk to God only the emperor could do that. JT also took us to some state run souvenir shops like the silk shop, pearl shop, jade shop and tea shop. That night Jamie and I decided to just hang out - play cards (which I got a score of 8 in 5 crowns) and talk about what we had seen that day.
The next morning we got our awesome breakfast and then hit the road to see The Great Wall of China! It was pretty awesome. JT our guide took us a little bit up and then said I will meet you in 2 hours here so Jamie and I hiked to the peak of the Juyong Pass of the Great Wall. Jamie's fitbit said we climbed 151 flights of stairs that day. It was fun to just walk around and be out of the smog of the city and see the wall which extended as far as the eye could see from the east to the west. After a few hours at the great wall we went to the one place they take all tourist for lunch which was not so great but it was probably more traditional. Once we finished lunch and looked around the copper vase making area we went to the Summer Palace which was built for the emperor's mom. It has the longest covered corridor in the world which was close to 800 meters long so his mom could enjoy the lake when it was hot out and stay in the shade and also enjoy it during the rainy season and still be covered. The columns along with entire path have paintings on them depicting folk tales and history. Many of the stories are similar to ones I have heard in our culture and each teach a morale. To finish out our tour we had Peking Duck. Peking is the old name for Beijing which is where the recipe for this dish came from. On our way to the restaurant we got to see the Bird's Nest which is the Beijing National Stadium which held the openings ceremony for the 2008 Summer Olympics and will host of the 2022 Winter Olympics. After dinner Jamie and I were dropped off at our hotel we decided we would brave the streets and see some local shops, the train station and get some ice cream since we didn't like the food as much this day as the day before. We finished the night with a little Starbucks and haggling with a local shop to get some trinkets for our kids. I was able to get some purses, shirts and watches for $15 - which was necessary since I can't come home from a trip without something for my little friends. One our way out we had a delay on our second flight and got to have some fun times at the airport - after another round of 5 crowns (which by the way on this trip I had one game where my total score was 0) a stop to get some candy and drinks we got to have a pantomime conversation with a group of older people. During the pseudo conversation we also met some travelers from Canada who had been touring Asia for over 5 months. While this was happening one of the little old ladies sitting next to Jamie grabbed her knitting out of her hand and then started knitting - it was the fastest I have ever seen those needles fly. At first we were nervous she would mess up Jamie's wash cloth until we realized she was a master and was better than either of us could have imagined.
After 3 days we made it back home to families who were super excited to see us and we were super thankful for.
|Milkshake at The Shack|
|A note I found from Molly right before flying out|
|Packed and ready to fly out - great thing about traveling lots you learn to take less each time|
|Knitting and reading books after a day of tours|
|It just kept going and going|
|The emperor's chair|
|Outside the Forbidden City|
How we looked on much of the trip
Me with my phone camera and Jamie with her professional one
|Dinner - excited for food after this great meal|
|Temple of Heaven|
|The Great Wall!|
|The stairs were not so even - some came to my knee|
while others barely came over our ankle.
By the way the hand rail was super short!!
|At the top of the Juyong Pass|
|Tea Ceremony - some tasted like perfume which was not pleasing to my taste buds!|
|Yum- square tofu, shoe leather tofu and, mutton and cucumbers so spicy I could barely eat. Soon to join the crew was Peking duck|
|Chip flavors around the world!|
|Say what?? Ashley 0 - Jamie 199|
|Awesome view of the part we were in|
|Just keep climbing - we were in a loop area and if we had more time could have hiked the entire loop|