Friday, November 24, 2006

Our First Full Day in China

Greetings from China! We just returned to the hotel (6:30 p.m. Friday our time; 5:30 a.m. Friday Ohio time) after a full day of sight seeing. We left the hotel at 9:30 a.m. and headed to the Great Wall. It was a grueling workout to walk the steep steps. We only made it a short way before we had to turn around. It was pretty amazing, though. Construction on the Great Wall started in the 7th and 8th centuries B.C. and continued for a period of 2000 years.

We then headed to lunch with the 10 other families in our group. Everyone is very nice and very eager like we are to get their children on Monday. We really like our coordinator, Genie. She is a great tour guide, translator and history teacher. (Rob & Shelly - Genie remembered you even without the pictures. Her exact quote: "I loved them!")

After lunch, we headed to the Summer Palace. It was very cold today, but seemed to get even colder when we got off the bus at the Summer Palace. We were there about one hour and even though I was wearing gloves, my fingers froze. We ended the day by driving by the site of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Wait until you see this structure on tv. It looks pretty awesome.

Here are some other China observations:

  • There are 1-3 people who work at every bus stop to help direct the passengers to make sure they get on the bus in an orderly fashion and to control the crowding of the buses. That's a pretty expensive way to run a public transit system.
  • There are 15 billion people in Beijing and I think all of them were out tonight on our ride home. The roads were packed with cars, buses, bikers and walkers. There are TONS of people who ride their bikes and even with little kids on the back, they ride dangerously close to the other traffic. It doesn't seem to phase anybody.
  • We had the opportunity to see lots of artisans at work today at a "Friendship Store" where we had lunch. Nolan and I discussed the fact that you don't find the variety and types of hand-made products that they have here at home because we a country that is all about mass producing, but we were amazed at the talent of the people here and the hours of work they put into each piece for so little money.

We head to the Tian'Anmen Square, the Forbidden City and to a Chinese acrobatic show tomorrow.

Hugs and kisses to Leila. We miss you bunches!

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