Day One Beijing: Driven Like Cattle
Man alive, the jet-lag kicked my butt today. So tired, but making myself type.
The lag time on the remote access is maddening, but it helps me jump the fire wall that prevents direct accesss to blogspot, so no complaints. Also, pardon the typos, I'm too tired to fix them. Got into the hotel by 11:00pm last night, straight to bed and the kids were able to sleep even though our bodies thought it was mid-morning, so that was good. We were up early to meet the guides by 7:30 and introduce ourselves to the other members of our tour group within a tour group. There are close to either 300 or 400 of us, jet lag brain, can't remember for sure, and BLAS broke us up into smaller, more manageable groups. We climbed on the bus and headed for the Great Wall by way of a jade factory/obligatory tourist/shopping episode but nothing will compete with the jewelry fashion show at the
Guilin state run pearl store. So, without bored but beautriful young Chinese women carrying the jade carvings up and down a catwalk, I was kind of disappointed. We arrived at the Luyong? section of the Great Wall and it was lighly raining, just enough to beat the heat back. The guide encouraged us to take the steeper but shorter section because our time was short and my heart fell when I stared up the incline. Oh good hell. my sunken heart was soon beating out of my chest and ancient Chinese grandmas were lapping me up and back. One thing about SLC: it may get hot, but its a dry heat. Not. Here. Oh good hell, I was dripping wet and it had stopped raining long before I started dripping. My hair is CURLY here. My hair. Curly. Inconceivable. The girls climbed much farther than I was able, but I made it to the first guard station so I didn't embarrass them completely, except for the dripping with sweat thing I had going on.
We left the Wall and stopped at a cloisonne factory (state-run, obligatory), with a big banquest restaurant on the second floor and had a pretty darn good lunch for banquet food and scooped up some small cloisonne animals on the way out. We got back to the hotel where we had an hour before the next time we needed to be in the lobby to go to dinner and I fell asleep like I had been chloroformed and the phone ringing scared me awake. We kept the group waiting for 20 minutes and if you know my "if you're on time, you're already late" kind of personality, you know that I was just mortified. I won't let it happen again. Dinner was Beijing-style hot pot, not spicy, but delicious. The group filled in the tables in the double room and we had a room to ouselves with the three lovely BLAS guides where I could get over the mortification before we got back on the bus to visit the summer Olympics sports venues. The Bird's Nest is pretty spectaculare, but the tourist bathroom stilled lacked toilet paper. World class architecture accompanied by third world bathrooms. Beijing in a nutshell.
Back to the hotel and the girls fell asleep the second their heads hit the pillow, me next. Photos to follow. Maybe.
Tomorrow: Temple of Heaven, acrobats (Mom, I'll look for the sturdy girl at the bottom of the bike pyramid and say hi from you and Lynette) and Hard Rock Cafe so Ellie can eat something besides noodles, but lover her, she's willing to try different tastes.