At the end of each day I sit down and try to recap what we did, what we saw and try to share these experiences with you. There truly is so much to share and talk about and I know I can’t possibly begin to explain the scenery, the people, the looks, the language or the smells, but I will try.
Each morning the hotel has a buffet that offers a western style breakfast. This is probably the best meal of the day because we know what we are eating is ok. Our guide also lets us know of other restaurants in the area where we can eat and should not get sick. We cannot drink the water or get drinks with ice in them unless we are told it is ok. We also cannot eat a lot of the local foods because our stomachs can’t handle it. And believe me, after the way we felt after our long trip and trying to adjust to the time change, we are not going to risk it.
We started today by going to Tiananmen Square. This area is kind of like their Washington monument. This is the tourist season and people are everywhere. I have never been anywhere and been around so many people. When walking you just get lost in a sea of people and you better keep going and pushing along. There was a huge long line at the Red Square with people to pay their respects to the last president. We did not do this, but we were able to take pictures of the buildings and statues.
Today we got to experience a bit of what a celebrity must feel like. People stared, smiled, tried their English out on us and we were also the subject of many pictures and videos. One little boy approached me and asked me if I spoke Chinese. I said no and he then said, “Picture?” I asked, “You want me to take a picture with you?” He nodded and smiled a big smile. I turned around and took a picture with him and his mother acted so happy. He thanked me and then tried to get pictures with others in our group.
We also visited the Forbidden City. This place is huge and we walked and walked and walked. This is where the emperor lived during the different dynasties. Again, so many, many people. By the time we reached the center of the city, we were all very hot and tired. The humidity is so oppressive at times. And because of the crowds, the smells are sometimes nauseating.
We then went on a Hutong tour. Hutong is a village with alleys that wrap around. The best way to get around the village is on a rickshaw. This was the highlight of the day. We rode on rickshaws through the streets of Hutong and it was so much fun. We got to see how the people live and work. Kids played in the alleys with anything they could find. Merchants sold anything and everything. We also got to go inside of a family’s home and learn about their life and home. Mr. Cricket also came and talked to us. He is a local legend of sorts. He trains crickets (the insect) to fight. I know, sounds silly, but it is a very serious matter here. The winner of a cricket fight can win up to 850,000 Yuan (a little over $100,000). Losers have been known to lose the house they live in. He is so proud of what he has been able to accomplish and he showed us articles and books where his story has appeared.
Once we got on the bus, our guide told each of when we needed to be ready for check out in the morning, what would happen when we got to our child’s province and when we would meet our child. At times throughout this trip, we find ourselves sitting back and realizing why we are here. Up to this point, it seems like we are vacation touring, learning the local culture and then it hits us … oh yeah, we are receiving our child tomorrow!!!
We leave very early tomorrow morning to fly to Chengdu. We think we will meet Isabella at 2:30 tomorrow afternoon. Please pray for all of us tomorrow … Isabella, Michael and I, Bella’s precious foster family, and everyone who is part of this journey to her. Next post will be after we have her in our arms!!!!!!!!!!