We slept a little better the second night in China, mostly just passing out from sheer exhaustion and sleeping through the night with a little help from our BFF melatonin. We needed the rest though. Today was the Great Wall!
The kids have been looking forward to this for a long time. Tim and I remember it being a really incredible experience to get to be at one of the Seven Wonders of the World, but we also know that’s not an easy climb. The oldest part of the wall dates back to 221 BC; the section we were on is practically new at only 600 years old. Consequently, however, it’s (obviously) all hand-laid stone, so it lacks the evenness and consistency of machine-made steps. So one step might be a few inches and the very next one closer to 12 or 13 inches. It makes it hard to get a rhythm when you’re doing the stair and hard to catch your breath.
It was really cold at the wall. Temps were in the 20’s with a windchill in the single digits. And let us tell you that the wind blows on the Great Wall. Our plan was that Vivi and I would go as far as she wanted, but Tim, his mom, and the boys would keep going if they wanted to.
This is the scenery that greeted us from the parking lot from where we started our climb.
This is the part we climbed. Tim and I climbed a section very close to this last time; we could see it from where we were this time. We both appreciated getting to do a different section. This one was a little easier in spots than the one we did four years ago. Spoiler alert: The building with the four points on the left is where Vivi and I climbed up to, but Tim, his mom, and the boys? They made it all the way up to that reddish building at the top of the picture!
The start of the climb.
Our family picture before we started.
This time I remembered to bring one of our Terrible Towels. There’s a big game coming up and we wanted to send the Steelers all the good Ju-Ju we could (pun intended – see what I did there???).
Tim and his mom, trekking along. In this picture, Liam is running and right at the base of the steps, and Micah is the one in the neon hood.
Me and Tim, repeating our shot from four years ago.
From this point on, Tim took the camera and all the pictures since they kept going. The steps were just a little too much for Vivi to keep going. The Great Wall is hard enough as it is, but imagine doing it in ski boots where you can’t move your ankles. That’s what Viv deals with when she wears her braces. The tradeoff for leg support is ankle immobility. But she was awesome. Our girl climbed all the way up to that spot by herself, and almost all the way back down. I gave her a piggyback for the last part so even though I didn’t make it to the top, extra points for me for doing part of it with a child on my back.
Random insoles that they came across part of the way up the Wall.
The view from the top was pretty stunning.
Pics of the boys at the top.
Coming back down again.
Micah celebrating on the way back down. (This was actually on the way up the last little flight of steps right before you got off the wall.)
After our Wall experience, we headed to a jade factory for a tour, a little bit of buying, and lunch. Jade is valued in China like we value gold or diamonds in the US. People pass pieces of jade down through generations of their families.
I am realizing now that I took very few pictures of the jade factory and none of the store itself, which was ginormous. I think my lack of pictures is due in large part to the eagle eye we had to keep on the kids, and the many times we had to tell them, “Don’t touch that!”, “Step away from the jade!”, and “Seriously, you will have zero chance at any kind of higher education and possibly food for the foreseeable future if you pretend to ice skate even one inch closer to that giant statue hand-carved entirely out of jade.”
But here’s what I have. This is a master craftsman carving a family circle ball, which has many layers of moving jade parts.
A horse carved entirely out of white jade.
A shot of what the Olympic medals looked like from the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Notice the jade in each one?
Micah in front of a huge piece of wall art made entirely of jade.
On the way back from the jade factory, we drove by two most famous Olympic venues from 2008 – the Bird’s Nest stadium and the Cube, where all of the water events took place. They don’t use the Bird’s Nest anymore, but they do use the Cube for various things.
No rest for the weary today. After a very brief break, we were off to catch the Chinese Acrobat Show. Or as they call it here, the Acrobat Show. Think Cirque du Soleil in a smaller theater.
The first act was a girl balancing hula hoops. Not so hard, right?
And I can’t even do one.
Later was the balancing twirling plates act.
Sure you can do it while standing on your friend’s head, but can you do it while you’re doing a split in a pyramid?
So they were pretty impressive. The boys were enthralled with this while Vivi took a nap for most of it. I have video of five motorcycles racing in a giant metal ball that really made Micah’s day, but the video is too big to upload right now. You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you it was awesome.
The last stop of day 2 was the Night Market. To be honest, it was really cold and the kids were really tired by that point, but we pushed on because we wanted to have photographic evidence for them later that they had seen this really cool place.
I mean, where in America can you get all of these crazy things on a stick, like scorpions
or pig snouts
or a random assortment of bugs and other things I wouldn’t eat even on a stick or off?
And then there was the smoking drinks,
the giant crab legs,
and the huge chestnuts? At least, we think they’re chestnuts. At this market, who knows?
And that was it for Beijing!
We flew to Nanjing on Sunday afternoon and as I write this, it’s the middle of the night – which is when I do our blogging in China if Vivi doesn’t wake up before me and talk to me from 2:30 AM until, well, she finally fell asleep at 7:30 PM. The girl can talk.
We will have Titus in our arms at 2:00 p.m. local time, which is 1:00 a.m. in Pennsylvania. Check out the next post – and last for the night! – on how we’re feeling as we get read to finally meet our son.