Well, I kept trying to post something over the last couple of days, but darn it all.... we have been run to death here.
The first day the group was all together, we went to Tiananmen Square and the Imperial City. We thoroughly enjoyed that - and I have some great pics to show for it. I'll post either the pics or a link to the pics a little later. I need to have some time to work on them... and this computer doesn't have the program I'm used to working with so it may take me some time to figure out how to make small enough copies that it won't take 6 hours to get them up online.
That evening we were treated to an acrobat show - and Kenzie was fascinated. She couldn't take her eyes off of everything. I tried to video tape and - DUH! I ran out of tape less than halfway through. But it was great fun to watch.
The next day we went to the Great Wall. Now, I know you can't tell by looking at me, but I'm a Liiiiiiiittttle bit out of shape. No, really - I am! LOL! OK joking aside... I can tell you if you have any ideas about climbing the wall, let me warn you - it's not at all like climbing a set of stairs. The steps are uneven, sometimes even dangerously worn down in places, and the risers aren't the same... some are very short (maybe 4-5 inches high) and others are almost two feet high. I had one gentleman help me over the first one I encountered.
I gotta tell you, I ran out of breath very quickly. I told Roy and Kenzie to go on ahead. Kenzie walked up the stairs like it was nothing. She didn't want to stop - and wasn't even breathing hard... she was a natural at it. She had so much stamina - I was very proud of her and how she just dove in and went for it. They almost made it to the top of one ridge, but Roy was worried about how long it would take to get back down, so he told Kenzie they had to turn around and get down. I almost made it to the top of the first climb up the side of the mountain. Funny thing, I was huffing and puffing up the steps, and a group of Chinese women, who were taking their time and still passing me up, having great fun with the climb (and laughing at me for my efforts - which was okay with me - I laughed with them) passed me going up the steps. We met again as they were going down. Roy and Kenzie were behind them and I heard her call out "Mama", and I waved at her. I guess they thought I was waving at them... they all yelled out and waved at me and then all of them wanted the others to take their picture with me. Very funny - until Kenzie came down and hugged me and stood with me. Then there was a change in their expressions. Not so jovial then. Makes me wonder what went through their minds.
Speaking of which - both Roy and I found that a lot of the men in Beijing would look at Kenzie - hard - staring at her. Then look at us with a not so friendly look (not mean or threatening - but maybe one of not understanding how this child was with us.) It wasn't just a few men, it was almost every man who saw us together. And I got some dissapproving stares from women as well. I don't even try to understand it. But I've been on high alert as to who is around us and what they are doing around Kenzie.
We went to a Chinese restaurant, which was part of a cloisonne factory - and they had a souvenir shop. Let's just say if you go to this place, there isn't supposed to be any bargaining - and the very set of chopsticks that I bought for 30 Yuan in the Silk Market they were selling for 200 Yuan. I only bought a couple of cloisonne bracelets for the girls to have as keepsakes. I wasn't going to waste my time with spending money on something that was overpriced even for US standards.
Later, we went to the Summer Palace - which I believe would be awesome to see in the Spring or Summer. Not so hot in late Autumn. It was frigid near the lake. However, I think I could have spent a lot more time there. There was much more to see, and I could have spent time just sitting around some of the spots and appreciating the views.
I have to say - I was aching all over by the end of the second day. I could barely move, and we had to pack our suitcases to fly to Harbin the next day.
Well, evidently I did okay - because here we are in Harbin. And it's COLD! It's like Indiana in January - and it's only November. It's about 32 degrees fahrenheit - but it feels much colder. I think the humidity here is much higher than what it is in Indiana. Our guide, Lynn, is a sweatheart - I really like her very much. She is very helpful and speaks English really well.
Now in Harbin - we are told that since we are not Asian, the local population might possibly mistake us for Russians - and they might speak Russian to us. There is a river nearby that when it freezes over in the winter, it is a 5 minute walk across it to Russia. That's hard to believe.
We are waiting for Deb's son's friend who is studying here to come to the hotel. He's going to take us to a good restaurant so we can eat supper. I'm not looking forward to stepping outside the hotel with it as cold as it is...
Tomorrow, we are going to the Civil Affairs Bureau and will meet Jia. We will be taking her back to the hotel with us, and Lynn said she would stick around to help with some interpretation so she could explain to Jia what is going on. That would be just in case she grieves heavily. If things seem to go well, then we'll chance it on our own.
I know this is a long post, and mostly fluff. I've been doing all this stuff so I wouldn't be going over and over in my head what would happen tomorrow. I worry that we are going to have our hands full and I am not up to it. Kenzie has been acting out a little - but I guess that is to be expected right now. Her whole world is turned upside down at this point and she's totally out of her element. Doing something that wears her out (Great Wall) was perfect for her - she can work off some energy and by the time we get to bed, she sleeps soundly. And so do I....
Here's to hoping we get the sleep we need after tomorrow. I don't know if I'll be able to blog again soon - we'll see. Say a prayer for us and for little Jia. She needs a lot of love to get her through the next few days.