By Kristin and Kyle
Today, we woke up feeling rested from our previous day of travels. It has been easy getting on China time. Although, we did wake up earlier than normal (4:30a.m). Our hotel has a beautiful view and a great breakfast. At breakfast, Kyle and I set our coats and backpacks on the extra chairs by us, and someone immediately came to cover them up with a seat cover. We both got a good laugh out of that.
After breakfast, we met up with, Alan, our tour guide and other Holt families. There are five other families adopting, and one of them is adopting from the same province as us.
Our first stop of the day was visiting the Great Wall of China. As our tour bus took us towards the outskirts of Beijing, we began to see some mountains and then our first glimpse of the Great Wall. It was really quite incredible! The section of the Great Wall we saw was over 600 years old. Some areas have been dated as 1000-2000 years old.
There was a small gift shop half way up our climb, and I was so grateful it sold water. Kyle and I were very thirsty, climbing the steep steps of the Great Wall was more challenging than we thought it would be. Kyle decided to also buy a Chinese Red Bull. He is bound and determined to try as many Chinese energy drinks as he can find.
Hanging inside the gift shop window, were these beautiful chimes.
We then loaded up our tour bus, and started traveling back into Beijing. We we’re going to tour a government owned jade factory. Our tour guide explained that jade is a very precious stone to the Chinese people. It is often given as a gift at the arrival of a new baby. It is thought to keep the wearer protected. We bought our little lady bug a pendant with her Chinese Zodiac on it.
Next stop, the Hutong District. The Hutong District has a great amount of history in Beijing. It is said that the real culture of Beijing stems from this district and its courtyards. Beginning in the Yuan dynasty these courtyards grew in number until there were a few thousand of them in Beijing surrounding The Forbidden City. Now, unfortunately, there are only 100 left.
This is the first gate into the courtyard. Typically there would be statues on the sides depending on social status i.e., army general, or civil official. The pillars at the top of the door, or “stars” as they were referred as, were another marking of social status. A normal person had no stars. Officials could have either two or four.
Getting pulled around in the rickshaw.
Center of the courtyard and the four houses. There is so much history about these courtyards it would be impossible to write it all down and not forget vital information so you will just have to believe me when I say that it was really interesting.
After the presentation by our gracious host he pulled us aside and said he wanted to take a picture of us under the fan. Not exactly sure whey he singled us out but I am honored none the less.
This day was really a fantastic experience. The pictures and words truly fail to put into perspective the amount of history that we took in.