Next morning, off to visit a Jade Factory. What a beautiful craft! We watched Jade being cut with diamonds and water, by artisans, into beautiful statues and jewelry. We purchased a jade necklace with the emblem of the Ox, which is the year in which Quinn was born according to the Chinese Horoscope, and it’s considered good luck to present daughters with Jade when they get married. I’m guessing that she’ll get to wear this before that happens, but it’s a nice tradition! Then to the Cloisonne factory, which I wasn’t prepared to like, but once I saw the process and the beautiful vases, I changed my opinion of it. They use a copper base for the vases, then solder copper wire onto it in a pattern done by the designer, fire it, then paint it by droppers of special paint. Repeat that step many times until the color stays, then polish it and sometimes like the top with gold. They are beautiful, and we did get a few Christmas tree ornaments to commemorate our trip here.
At the Cloissone factory, you also get to eat in their restaurant Family Style, so they bring you bowls of different foods, a large bowl of rice, and some awesome soup that we all liked. The fish heads still attached were a little unappetizing, but the fish tasted great, so we ignored the heads. Because it’s not wise to drink the water here in China, you are served tea instead, and if you want something like pop, then you have to order and pay for that separately.
We managed to squeeze in a quick trip to the grounds where the 2008 Olympics were held for the guys- they were thrilled to see the stadium and Birds Nest after having seen these places on TV.
Then it was off to the Great Wall, the attraction that I was most looking forward to seeing. It was very different than I imagined. The builders wanted it to be hard for anyone attacking to get around on the wall, so it angles up and down very steeply, and the steps are not uniform in size. It makes it quite a workout just walking on it, (who needs a Stairmaster?) and we decided we could make a Great Wall Exercise video, including calesthenics once you get to the guard towers! The view is impressive, and the rocks on the wall worn smooth from hundreds of years of wear and weather. The ride up to the wall was in a gondola (old ski lift, I’m thinking…) and made us catch our breath more than once when the wind blew us back and forth! And just so you know, there was Chinese graffiti all over the wall, so I guess that is a vice present in every culture.
Each morning, we hit the hotel’s breakfast buffet, and this gives us a chance to try out all sorts of different foods that we normally wouldn’t experiment with! I’ve had some incredible fried rice, dim som, dumplings, sautéed vegys of various kinds, some kind of chicken and egg soup, bamboo, cooked peanuts and lima beans, interesting pastries, and the best watermelon I’ve ever eaten. I also have a whole new appreciation for celery and can’t wait to use it more in my cooking when I get home. The diet mainly consists of vegys and rice here, with a sprinkling of meat- very enjoyable for me, but I’m thinking that Loren will want a big old hamburger when we get home. J
|The lobby of our hotel|