Well, it is official – “Feel the burn” has a whole new meaning :) Today was a tour of a jade factory and then the Great Wall. The tours that are run are mostly government tours, so there are specific places you visit during an outing. This was the same tour we were on when we picked up Sylvie, so it was nice to be a bit more relaxed and get to enjoy a little scenery instead of blasting through it and moving on to the next thing. The first stop was the jade factory, where we ran into Karla and Shea and their new little one, Victoria. It was great to see them and see that they were all starting to settle in (as much as you can when you are living out of a suitcase and a hotel room…) Spent a little time in the shop there getting (you guessed it) some jade – We picked up a jade rat pendant for Mary, as her zodiac sign is a rat the same as Sylvie. Joyanne is a snake, but is that really THAT hard to guess? … :) (Love You – No poison in my sleep please…) Oh, and I am an Ox, which is not that surprising either because I am
Next stop was the Great Wall, and I have to tell you, even this time around it was still a sight to see. Whenever I look at this country and think of its history I marvel in the sheer volume of it. Shanxi was a fantastic province to visit for just that, and Beijing is no different – The city and area are built on history. So, up the wall we go – you get the ‘hard’ and the ‘not quite as hard’ routes to choose from here, and I have to say that even the ‘not quite as hard’ tour is still a heck of a leg workout, especially with a munchkin strapped on your front. Stopped for a quick photo op and proceeded up (and subsequently down) the wall. After the jaunt we met up with our group in the coffee shop as they straggled in from their adventures. And by coffee shop, I do mean Irish coffee – Gotta have a licensed tourist trap close by to something like this – Even I could market that :). We even got to be a part of (or well, rather blamed for) the first snowfall at the wall for the year. After everyone arrived, we were back on the bus and off for lunch at a Cloisonné factory.
Cloisonné’s are enamel-baked items (vases, statues, masks, etc.) that are fired onto bronze (or some other metal) so they do not break when they are dropped (or thrown depending on your household). They were built to appease an Emperor that has a fascination with throwing porcelain to hear it break (apparently to calm himself – no Ativan in that era I guess…). Needless to say, these pieces of art were kind of priceless, so they tried to find another way to create the vases and such that could basically take some abuse… Ergo – Cloisonné’s.
A little lunch and a little shopping (they really get you on these tours if you are not careful) and we started our long trek back to Beijing. This day on the tour was probably our longest by FAR… So everyone was quite tired and we basically staved off the Water Cube and the Birdsnest from the Olympics in 2008… We did drive by them for an out-of-the-window photo op, but the day was dragging on too long, as was traffic, so we cut that out of the events. Again not really a loss for us, as we have seen them before. The girls faired pretty well over the long day, but were both looking forward to some end in sight when we pulled the plug.
Back to the hotel after a long day’s outing some of us decided that we needed some suits made while we were here… We had actually decided the day before, but the tailor was showing up at the hotel today for a measure and fabric choose… He did NOT have the baby blue swatch in his collection, or one of the other fellas and myself would have probably rocked that out just because… Ruffled shirt and all :) But it was not to be, so we are probably better off… A nice man and his assistant (no English… mutters a lot… but seems nice) gave us the run through and said they would be back tomorrow for a fitting… under 24 hours, from the comfort of your hotel room – not too bad :). We will see what is in store for then :)
C (et all)
…Where did you find that suit?? FIND IT? I had to get this MADE… :) Probably best that we did not get our way…
Getting ready for our outing...
Met up with Karla and Shea and Victoria on the tour
I will guarantee that if you see this sign in ANY of the stores you should steer your wife clear because your wallet will start to smoke...
Playin on the bus ride
Bundled up for some hiking...
It was a brisk day... Ready to go!
A view from just before the gates
This wall holds a LOT of people
Still powering through a long day - The blue outside the window is the Water Cube from the Olympics
The bus ride is almost over