Sunday, April 15, 2018

{Journey to Ailee James: Beijing}

We made it!  After a delayed flight in Atlanta and running to catch the long flight in Seattle, we are here safe & sound.  I'm suffering from jet leg pretty bad and really wishing that we had more time to sleep and rest {just a day at least!} before having to be up and going to tour all over this beautiful, ancient city.

We arranged for a travel guide to cover us the two days that we are Beijing since our agency only picks up the tab when we are in our daughter's province.  But, the guide failed to tell me until after we booked him and paid that he was not anywhere close and would have someone else taking care of us. But she didn't start until this morning.  Thankfully the Lord provided for the amazing Meredith Toering {who runs Morningstar Foundation for babies with heart defects} to meet us at the airport...and boy am I thankful she did!  She is hoping to build a relationship with AJ's orphanage and asked as we were waiting in the Atlanta airport if we wouldn't mind her tagging along for Gotcha Day.  I mentioned my concern about navigating Beijing airport with only a driver who speaks zero English and she graciously offered to come help us along in any way she could.  She's fluent in Mandarin but born & raised in the USA and has a heart bigger than the size of Texas for the least of these.  She ended up picking us up from the airport & being able to communicate with the driver where we needed to he wasn't entirely sure.  Oh my!  She helped us get checked in and made sure were settled in our room before taking the subway back.  {She's also going to join us for 2 more days in Tianjin.}. I know she said that she was the one so thankful to spend some time together as it gets difficult in her role of running an NGO in this country and seeing little Americans that truly get what it is she does...not to mention my extensive understanding of the heart world, too.  But, truly the greatest gift was ours.  She is rare treasure and blessed us immensely.

On Sunday morning, we woke up early to catch breakfast for a few minutes before meeting our guide, Alice, for the day.  First on our agenda was The Great Wall.  This was the only thing that I wished we could have done with AG's adoption but it just didn't make sense going to Beijing when she was in the south the entire time.  Between jet lag & winding through Chinese villages, I got horribly ill.  I spent part of the trip throwing up in the back seat and just didn't know if I was going to be able to make it up the Wall.  I've sense learned that I struggle with altitude sickness going high into the mountains wasn't helping a bit!

I did everything I could to make sure that I didn't miss this opportunity and Wyatt held me up most of our trip!  We didn't hike as much as I would have liked but it's a huge check off my bucket list and I'm good with it! :)

On the way up, we rode an open cable car and on the way down we took a toboggan ride!  Going down as fast as I could was the only thing that didn't make me sick that day! ;). Wyatt even said that he thought his mom was pretty cool for going as fast as I did.  We both chalked that one up as the highlight of the day!

Afterwards, we ate lunch at a local Chinese restaurant where I couldn't eat a thing.  I was still so sick that I just put on a face mask and sat there.  Wyatt tried the chicken and said it was pretty good but we were warned not to eat the peppers...Chinese spicy is different from anything else and we didn't want to take our chances! Then, we left The Great Wall area and I sat in the front seat and slept the entire 1 1/2 hour drive back into Beijing.  I woke up a new person!

We had a lovely tea ceremony followed by a Hutong tour {rickshaw ride} followed by visiting some park {Jingsu???} where some emperor committed suicide many years ago and they built a mountain in his honor.  It was really busy but the tulips were lovely!  It was really hot for Beijing the 80s!

We wrapped up the day by heading to get our guide for Tianjin, Susan...and taking the late train to Ailee James' hometown!  Just in time to get settled in before her Family Day began...

  These guys were at the end of the toboggan ride!  We had to get a photo! :)

   In front of the Bell Tower and wearing a mask!  I wore one most of the day...especially in town as there is "China Snow" falling's some white fuzzy balls that are flying through the sky off of a tree that is blooming.  I didn't want to take my chances!  Otherwise, the weather was beautiful & the sky was clear!

Checking out Chinese automobiles is always fun!  Ever heard of a Changan???

We sat on the rickshaw for at least 20 minutes waiting for cars to come through this funny how in America we would be saying turn around and there's no room but here they are like "You've got 1/2 a centimeter! Go for it!  You're good!"  :)

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