Saturday, March 19, 2016

Day 1 - Exploring China

China is incredible! We love it! Brady and I got up early this morning and walked down to the Forbidden City. At first there weren't many people out on the streets but as time went on the streets became more and more crowded. We went inside the gates to see the palace but the best part was just watching all of the people. So many people! Lots of old men sitting around smoking and enjoying the morning sun, women laughing and talking, young people with selfie sticks taking pictures, kids with giant headbands and brightly colored coats. It was fun walking through the old streets back to our hotel. Right now they are just coming out of their winter season and you can see buds starting to appear on all of the trees. In a few more weeks it will probably look different with all of the green out. Back at the hotel we met up with our guide. Her name is Vivian. She is from Beijing and works with our adoption agency. She has been so great to let us ask her questions about China all day long. It's nice having someone who can explain things to us in English. We drove through the city to the Great Wall on the out skirts of Beijing. It was amazing to see. We hiked up to the highest point of that section. The steps are steep and uneven so you really have to concentrate on where you're going. Our legs were shaking by the time we got back down. We had lunch a nice Chinese lunch of fried rice and chicken then went back into Beijing to the train station. It was the craziest train station we've ever been in and once again we were glad Vivian was there to help us. The train ride to Tianjin is a great way to see how the metropolitan area melts into the agricultural land. When you first leave the station you pass building after building of high rise apartments. One thing that I thought was funny about these apartment buildings were all of the wire cages that are popping out around the windows. Many of them were filled with junk. We asked Vivian about it and she said that is how they make their living space bigger. They put a chain link compartment out around their window and then they can store stuff out there. Once we got past all of the high rise buildings, the landscape was very flat and there were fields and ditches everywhere. Many of the fields had many people out working in them. It looked like they were planting something. Every once in awhile there would be a small village with about 100 or so little cinder block type homes. Vivian said this is where the peasants who work the fields live. It was fascinating to see how dramatically the lifestyle changes the further you get from the city centers. I thought the country side was beautiful and was glad we got to see a small glimpse of it before we pulled back into the robust city of Tianjin. Tianjin, what a place! There is a big river that runs though Tianjin so back in the day it was a harbor city with lots of colonial influence but now with the big population boom of the last few decades they have added tons of sky scrapers and modern buildings. The city has a unique mix of old and new, poverty and wealth. Such a fascinating place. The best part about it is that this is our son's city and in the morning we will get to meet him! We're so excited! Hopefully he likes us!
Lovin' the Chinese food!

We arrived at the Forbidden City early in the morning. The sun was trying to rise through the smog.

Walking back to the hotel we passes hundreds of these mopeds equipped with blankets and hand mittens.
 The Great Wall of China

 We packed Spuddy Buddy up there to get some RODS pics with him.

Pretty incredible where this wall goes and how it was made.

 Out at the great wall we were above most of the smog.
You can see a thick layer of smog down in the valley.

Train station

 Arriving in Tianjin

Looking down at the park from our hotel window.
View of Tianjin from our hotel window.

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