Back to Beijing…and internet!

•March 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Sorry we have been out of touch, but we have had a whirlwind couple days full of tons of fun memories and new sites. Two successive nights on a train with a day in Xi’an sandwiched in-between. In Xi’an we were able to bike along the entire top of the old City Wall, visited the Big Goose Pagoda and a Buddhist temple site, and of course made the trek to the amazing Terracotta Warriors. We have just arrived at our last hotel, and we have gone a little more luxurious this time. We have two bathrooms, a huge living/dining area, a full kitchen and a washing machine! I didn’t need as many clothes as I thought; could have just washed! Right now, I can’t wait to get in the shower and remove two and a half days of train funk from my body. Our hotel is situated in a nice upscale shopping area with many restaurants as well, so I am sure we will venture out soon to check it all out. Tomorrow we will head out of town to the Eastern Qing Tombs, where “my” Empress is buried and somewhere I have always wanted to go. We are supposed to also visit another section of the Great Wall that has had no restoration, and therefore has hardly any tourists. That will be very interesting. Even our guide has never been there. Strange how coming back into Beijing today on the train felt like coming “home”. Carlisle Barracks life seems so far away. We are really getting to recognize many areas of Beijing and even have a fair sense of how to get around. Still, even though I hate for the time to end here, looking forward to the fun and simplicity of my little “wife life”. I miss the kids and Jay very much! Love to all.


Great Wall, great Eunuch Museum, and great company

•March 28, 2011 • 1 Comment

Today’s wrap-up…. Today we started our accompanied tour with our driver and guide. We drove to a whole other end of Beijing to conquer the Eunuch Museum. These were the male servants to the Emperor and his family. I know I am not a guy, but if  “total castration” was listed in the job description I’m not sure I would apply. Enjoyed the museum, but what made it even better was that neither our guide nor driver had been there (because no one else had ever wanted to go), and there were NO OTHER VISITORS. In a city of 13 million people,I guess  we were the only ones that wanted to see the mummified eunuch, his tomb, and the instrument used to “neuter” him. Our guide was even laughing with shock as she read some of the displays to us. I played a little Indiana Jones, as I headed down the pitch black underground steps to visit the tombs of two of the eunuchs. Geez, military life may be tough, but at least you don’t have to work your whole life to save enough money to buy your manhood back from the “doctor” that stores it for you after the operation. Ewww.

After this educational and enlightening cultural experience, we headed two hours out-of-town to lunch in the country, followed by a five-minute hop to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. Weather was perfect and we practically had the wall to ourselves. We took the cable car up, did the long wall walk with lots of picture stops, and took the toboggan slide down. It was great to be back to the Wall- fourth time and it never gets old. Nice to share it with Sonya. Mom- Rita said she misses you too and wishes you could have adopted her so she could be an adopted Chinese girl too! She is getting married May1.

Post Wall, we returned to the city for a stop and demonstration at a traditional teahouse, then dinner in a neighboring restaurant.

Some funny/ cool/ strange things we saw today: a major crime scene in a rural town (I am talking crime scene tape and the SWAT team- yes it actually said SWAT in English on their bulletproof vests), lady doing a ribbon dance in the park then when done put her little doggie dressed into pink into its own basket on her bike which was lined with pink blankets, bargaining pretty good for a couple of souvenirs at the Great Wall (the problem with asking “how much is it?” in Chinese is that I sometimes get very long-winded answers because I think they think I really know Chinese…ha.), watching the fighting street gangs of stray dogs in every town, saw another “pet cart”- a person selling, fish, turtles, bunnies, and mice for pets from the back of a bicycle, a two-chair barber shop on a street corner outside- no building just a bicycle with supplies on the back but busy with both chairs occupied by men with the barber capes on….the lesson here is that anything you need in China can be put on a bike and brought out to you in your neighborhood if there is not already a shop for it.

Tomorrow will be BIZ-ZEE with trips to the Summer Palace, foot massage (I know, poor me), hutong tour, cooking class, two markets, Drum Tower, and the Temple of Heaven. I can’t find the doodad that allows me to upload pictures from the memory stick to the computer, so those will have to wait, but I know Sonya put some on her blog.

Tomorrow’s forecast here is 70 and sunny. Perfect. Thank you God for this trip, the great weather, the fun, the sights, the people, and my travel partner.

For today’s update…

•March 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment

…visit Sonya’s site at We had another fantastic day- babies, subways, walking, climbing, enjoying a huge park with lots of performers, lunch at Grandma’s kitchen (an “American” restaurant), more walking, back to hotel, back out to explore our hutong neighborhood, and a Chinese dinner. Tomorrow we start a life with a little more luxury and a lot less solo hoofing-it…we will be with our guide and driver. We are off to the Great Wall- same section I did with the kids two years ago, so we also get to do the cable car up and the alpine slide down, followed by the trout fishing lunch in a small village. Pictures from me tomorrow. Missing you all. Wish this was just one big ol’ field trip for the War College spouses, although Melanie those boots are too nice to be tromping around Beijing! (PS- Sonya says you are a must to go read her post because she posted a squatty pottty picture just for you!)

Babies, and babies, and babies…oh my!

•March 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

On our first full day in China, we started off just as we should- taking care of beautiful babies! A Canadian lady that is an adoptive mom and has lived in China for 20 years generously drove us out to the Little Flowers Project on the outskirts of Beijing. Such a nice facility. There were around 35 precious kiddos, some with special needs and some recovering or waiting for surgery. There were about 5 that were just preemies- TINY! One was just about 1 kg upon arrival, and up to a plump 2 kg now. Sonya and I each had plenty of cuddle time. A few tears from me when we met one teeny girl that was held all day by another volunteer that has been that for about a month. She told us the little girl has a very aggressive form of leukemia and is not expected to make it many more days. The cutie I spent most of the day with had microtia and was recovering from a recent heart surgery, but was so strong and alert…and CUTE! Sonya bonded with a fiery little girl having her club feet corrected. We  sadly had to leave, but we were able to catch the subway into Beijing and spent some time on Tian’an Men Square people watching and taking photos. We went to a large park near the Forbidden city and enjoyed the quiet and open space after the crushing throngs of the subway.

Man sleeping on bench in park with Chinese flag

Eventually headed back to our hutong neighborhood and had dinner. Due to the time change, 7 pm feels so late , but we are trying to stay up a while to get better adjusted. Love the hotel. Had a great breakfast. There are two dogs here that look just like wolves only with shorter legs (many dogs here look almost normal but then have strange short legs). Been able to skype with Jay and the kiddos and showed Jackson the “wolves”  (he agreed) as I sat outside in the red-lantern lit courtyard outside of our room. Tomorrow brings more time with the babies and then back for some more sightseeing on our own, before on Monday we meet back with our guide to hit the Great Wall. Enjoying experiencing all of China’s little idiosyncrasies and special moments with Sonya. We have been brave little travelers… I told her to just pretend we were on the Amazing Race. (Well, we did not enjoy the men that got out of their cars in the middle of the highway, thus blocking all traffic, and began pushing each other violently. As many people honked, but neither man wanted to back down, eventually one got in his car and drove on. The remaining man then got back into his car…with his baseball bat that he had been carrying around! We didn’t see that during the fight, but thank goodness things didn’t get any uglier!!)

We’re here!

•March 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

We’re here…and we’re tired! Got in after a LONG but uneventful flight, met our guide, and settled into our hotel. The hotel is a very charming old hutong courtyard home, now divided into hotel rooms. Beautiful red lanterns everywhere. We explored our new “hood”  for a couple hours. We are very close to the beautiful drum and bell towers in old Beijing. This hutong area is more than 700 years old. But…now the time change is catching up and I am going to hit the hay.(Been up about 28 hours minus the couple short naps on the plane.) Leaving tomorrow morning about 8:30 for our volunteer project. Hope to have the time and energy tomorrow to post some pictures. PS- No Facebook access here. Miss you kiddos so much already, and Jensen my “Mommy is the Best” necklace protected me the whole flight! I still have it on! Love you all.

Going back to the place I love…China!

•March 23, 2011 • 1 Comment

In seven hours I will start the long journey to Beijing. So so excited to be headed back for a fourth trip. I have done the adoption trip, a solo trip for volunteering, a trip back with the kids, and now a trip with my great friend Sonya. All different kinds of trips; all different vibes and planning. On this trip we will spend about 11 days exploring Beijing and Xi’an, doing some volunteering at the Little Flowers Project, sightseeing, eating, shopping, talking, and just basically soaking it all in. I am going to try my best to keep this updated with posts and pictures. Thank you all that continue to support my crazy trips, and always are ready with your encouragement. A big thank you especially to my FANTASTIC  husband-  my biggest supporter of all. Where most men would say, “Heck no.” to mom leaving for China again, he says, “Sounds like a great idea. I’ve got the kids. Don’t even worry about it.” For this and so many other reasons, I really really really love this man.

Pictures! Beijing and Loudi

•April 14, 2009 • 1 Comment