Loco LL

Thursday, May 15, 2008

If you dig a hole and keep on digging...

Will you get to China? Well, at least you can get there by airplane. The flight was a long 13 hours and with no sunset or nightfall. I don't know how that works, but it was basically daylight for my aunt and I for 2 days. We flew over Alaska (picture below) and Russia (which was just as beautiful with the snowy mountain tops).

We arrived to Beijing exhausted but excited. We drove about an hour to our hotel where we were greeted by these cute musicians and a handful of hotel workers gave us a refreshing washcloth and a cocktail with a flower in it. We stayed in a 5 star hotel. I will probably never get the chance again to stay in this nice of a place, so I enjoyed every minute of it. I liked this picture because you can see the fresh flowers in our hotel (the smell about knocked you over every time you entered) and the musicians playing in the background who ended up playing EVERY night we were there in the lobby.

Then there was the The Forbidden City. This place was built thousands of years ago as the home of the emperor. It has 999 ½ (because it is said that there are 1000 rooms for the god in heaven) rooms in it with many beautiful courtyards. I know the pictures do not display the majesticness of being there, but imagine walking and touching the same rocks, or trees that the emperors touched. It is a totally amazing experience.

We visited the Imperial Garden after the forbidden city tour. These rocks were brought up hundreds of years ago from southern China to be displayed in the emperor's garden. How did they do that?? Cool trees, huh?

We drove by Tiananmen square where tens of thousands of people visit every single day. We were not allowed to walk through there for some reason, but it was awe inspiring to think about what took place there.

We went on a rickshaw tour of the hutong (narrow streets) of China. We ate lunch with a local family and learned about the average daily life of the family that lives there.

We had tea at a beautiful historical place where we learned the chinese art of tea. If you know us well, you know how much Chris and I love Chinese tea, so this was fun for me and I brought back some pretty good oolong and jasmine teas for Chris.

This picture didn't come out well but those are scorpions and sea horses on a stick. They also had starfish on a stick. Chris ate squid on a stick in Taiwan. He was disappointed in me not trying the scorpians.

The second most fabulous thing that I experienced was having dinner in the Great Hall of the People. This is a HUMONGOUS building that holds conventions, meetings , and dinners for government officials. There is one room there that seats 10,000 people for dinner. We used a smaller room This is where the president would go to meet with government officials. We were the only ones there that night and we were told that even he Chinese people are not allowed in this building. It took some major string pulling to get us in there.

We visited the Cloissone factory on our way to the Great Wall. I loved seeing how these beautiful pieces of art are made, step by step. I had no idea so much work went into it.

Many of you knew I would be visiting the Great Wall. Well, that was our final day there. It was THE MOST AMAZING THING I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED!!!! I was totally emotional. From the second that we saw the wall from our bus, to the moment we walked up to it with traditional Chinese men playing drums as we crossed the entrance, to the moment I reached the summit of this particular piece of the 3000 miles of wall, to the spectacular display of the wall illuminating as night fell upon our dinner party, and finally as the most beautiful fireworks display celebrated the finish to our week in China. I can not tell you how amazing that night was. No words describe it and no pictures portray it well enough! It was the perfect night (other than Chris not being there)! Climbing those thousands of steps and reaching the top, looking down, I thought about the soldiers that climbed those very steps thousands of years ago, and the history that this wall encapsulates! I am so blessed to have experienced this.

We also drove through the area where the olympics will be. This is a huge thing for China. They have had years to prepare and they are still working 24/7 to prepare. We were kept awake many nights by the construction that went on all through the night hours. But the city is beautiful. There are flowers everywhere, and the government is really working hard to make laws that will bring down pollution (which is of deepest concern in the country right now).
My aunt and I visited a reflexology school where we had 90 minutes of foot, leg and even back massage for 20 minutes. It was totally different that anything I have experienced. We sat in a room in nice chairs that reclined and 2 young men came in. They acted like they had never had American clients before. They tried to speak what English they knew and we tried to speak the Chinese we knew. It was a very fun and funny experience, and of coarse relaxing. Though I could have used it the day after I climbed the wall!!
All in all, I loved my trip. Our flight home was prolonged becasue our pilot had a heart attack. Long story, but we got back a day later than we were supposed to and a lot more tired. I got right in the car and drove home to philly. THank heavens for good 95 traffic. India didn't want anything to do with me at first. It was heartbreaking but I wasn't to surprised. She is finally getting back to normal. Nursing is going better and my body is slowly adjusting to the time change. I have many more pictures and stories but I don;t want to write a book. I do hope to go back one day, though I am sure it would be a totally different experience.

So glad to be back

After 40 plus hours of travel, I am finally home. The pilot had a heart attack before we took off from Beijing so we had to sit on the plane for hours before we finally decided to take off and land in san fran, refuel and then off to chicago where we all had to spend the night because we all missed our connections. I am so happy to be with my family. I am totally jet lagged and exhausted, but happy to be home.

The earthquake was felt in Beijing, but we were in a bus at the time so we didn't even know until late that night. It is a terrible and devastating thing to see all the lives that have been lost from this quake, not to mention the cyclone in Myranmar.

India was a little mad at me at first. She took about an hour to warm up to me and still hasn't nursed yet. I am not too worried about it. Of coarse it makes me sad and feel guilty and all that. But she is young and I have a whole week with her before I go back to work. I am going to have to win her over again.
I am working on my blog about my trip with pictures. I should have it up by the end of the day.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

san francisco

How refreshing to be in another city that is doing things a bit greener and looking out for their people a it more. I love philly, but there are a few things that we could learn from cities like san francisco. Where it isn't odd to see a sign for "grass-fed beef," or to see solar panels, or for the toll booth lady to let us go across the golden gate bridge for free because there were three of us in the car. There is no perfect city, but this one seems to "get it" a bit more than east coast cities do.

The vineyards in napa valley are breathtaking, not to mention, endless. Everywhere you look from the mountains, to the valleys are covered. Then there are the roses. I wanted to rub them all over me, they were so fragrant. I only wish i could have stayed there longer.

We visited a few wineries and tasted some amazing wines. I know a bit more about wine and feel like I will not be able to appreciate my $6 bottle of wine as much anymore. But it was an amazing experience.

We visited my brother's old restaurant that he worked for called The French Laundry. It is a extremely well known and expensive restaurant. We couldn't afford to eat there but we took some nice pictures in the garden.

We visited fishermen's wharf, stood on top spencer battery to take pictures of the golden gate bridge, and drove the crookedest street of america. We saw the sea lions and alcatraz from pier 39.

My aunt and I had a lovely time with my brother. We are leaving early tomorrow for China. I am not looking forward to 13 hours on the plane, but I can't wait to be there. I miss the kids like crazy. Everything I saw today, I wanted to share with them.