Sunday, November 08, 2009

Pearl Factory, Great Wall and Cloissone Factory

Sunday, November 8, 2009:

My parents and I have adjoining rooms again here in Beijing so the day began with Hannah knocking on Grandma and Grandpa's door to wish them a Happy Anniversary!! At least I'm sure that's what her big gummy grin was saying! From there we headed downstairs to enjoy the delisious buffet breakfast that the Holiday Inn offers and to tuck away some fruit and congee for later.

We met with the group at 9am ready for a day of fun and adventures! we were going to climb the Great Wall!!! The opportunity of a lifetime!!

As we drove to our first destination the bus driver took us past the Olympic sites from last year's 2008 Summer Olympics that were hosted by Beijing. What we could see of them was amazing but unfortunately the combination of smog and fog greatly decreased the visability. We were able to see them though and that's what counts!! We saw the Bird's nest, swimming venue (tired brain can't think of the name of it); the media center, athlete's village and much more too. What a neat experience to see these places in person that I had seen last year on TV!

Our first stop of the day was at the Pearl Factory. Oh my!!! We saw a quick video about pearls, watched a gal harvest more than 20 real pearls from one shell and then....shopped! Let's just say I'm really glad I let Mr. Mastercard know that I would be in China right now!! The pearls were absolutely beautiful and so reasonably priced. It was a treat to buy souvenirs for Hannah and I as well as some others.

From the Pearl Factory we boarded the bus once again and drove to one of the most amazing sites I have ever seen in my life...The Great Wall!!! Even with the skys as they were, the sight was awesome, amazing and just....WOW!!! We left the bus with great intentions of where we might go. I was pretty sure I wouldn't go far and that proved to be true but I was ok with that. I was at the Great Wall with my daughter and I climbed the Great Wall with her.....that's enough for me!

Norma and I have a friend who owns a Tim Horton's and she had sent us to the Wall with mugs when I mentioned that I wanted to get pictures of ourselves on the wall with the Tim's mugs. Fun!

Another thing I had done was purchased a lock and had it engraved with our Family Day. (It ends up it was 1 day early as they changed our Family Day but that's not important.) The Great Wall has these chains on it where couples who are newly married often lock a lock that is engraved with their names and has a red ribbon tied to it. I decided long ago (ok....after seeing it on Amazing Race) that when I went to the Great Wall with Hannah I wanted to lock a lock there to celebrate our Family Day. Today 'we' placed the lock there. So neat!!

Hannah and I didn't get too far up the wall (just past the section with the red and white sign) but it was still nothing short of amazing!!! I was surprised both by how steep the steps are and also how high many of them are! Thankful for those handrails for sure as it was difficult to properly see where I was going, especially on the way down, with my little love strapped to the front of me. Norma was much more adventuresome and climbed as high as the second tower that you can see in these pics! Wow....I'm sure the view was amazing from there but I was only too happy to keep my feet where they were while keeping my baby safe and warm.

Our final stop of the day was at the Cloissone Factory where we watched them make the beautiful vases and other hand crafted items. What an art this is! I didn't buy anything there but it was neat to see! We also dined at their restaurant and it was a really good meal!! Wasn't too sure what to expect when we heard that it was going to be an authentic Chinese dinner but mmmmmm....yummy!!

After a long day we boarded the bus around 3:30 ready to head back to the hotel. What should have been a one hour drive was over 2 as he battled Beijing traffic. I couldn't believe for a moment how busy it was!! Sarah was explaining that normally they have vehicle restrictions but these don't apply on Sunday so the traffic was crazy! Vehicle restrictions are in place that do not allow vehicles with a license plate that ends with a zero or nine to drive on Monday, one and 8 on Tuesday, etc. It was easy to see why they have done this. Never in my life have I seen traffic like we have here! It's going to be a long time before I complain about Toronto traffic!

Back at the hotel we were almost ready to call it a day. I had to prepare some paperwork for Sarah to take to the Canadian consulate tomorrow to get Hannah's visa. After that Norma and I headed out to the market where we stocked up on water and coke for the week. We also stopped at a little bakery across from the store where we purchased 2 little cakes to celebrate mom and dad's anniversary. We tried to make it through dinner but it was just not to be. As is becoming our habit, Hannah and I tend to stay upstairs or only make it downstairs for a few minutes before she's had it. She's ready for her bath, a bottle and to call it a night. Tonight we did this but were still awake to share in the cakes that mom and dad decided to bring upstairs for dessert. Hannah's paperwork says that she had cake twice a day so she was only too happy to tuck into this one too even though it was miniscule amounts being fed to her by mommy's fingers!

What a great day of celebration!! Mom and Dad's anniversary and The Great Wall! WOW!!!

A video:

(Note from M3: this post is a new one and also the one below that's posted on Nov 7 titled "Sad to Say Goodbye to Changsha," so check that one out too.)


  1. I LOVE the Tim Horton's on the wall idea! Great pictures! Sounds like a wonderful day!

  2. What amazing memories! I love the lock on the Great Wall :-) Have a great 2nd week with Hannah!!

  3. Congratulations Catherine! Just reading through your journey and I'm so happy for you!

  4. looks like you had a grand day.

  5. Getting caught up. I love it all and can not wait to pick your brain!

    Keep smilin!

  6. Who's butt was that? I saw the legs and butt and then someone say, "Oh, very cute!" So what was that about...ha ha ha.


  7. Sounds like it's going so well for you both. I can see from your posts that you're so enjoying using the words "Mommy" and "my daughter"!!

  8. Happy Anniversary to Grandpa and Grandma, at the wall, awesome!!
    What a wonderful day!

  9. What an adventure. Thank you so much for sharing all this. We just returned from Georgia (the U.S. state), where we adopted a beautiful baby girl (full-biological sister to our 14-month-old son). I've enjoyed following your and Hannah's blossoming relationship as I get to know my own daughter.

  10. You are a real thrill seeker, taking Hannah up on the wall. We did it before we went to Changsha, so we didn't have The Empress in the mix.

  11. A friend shared your story with me and I looked you up! Congratulations. It looks like you are both doing well and already bonding. I love that you have your baby girl in a sling/carrier - a great way to get to know each other! Congrats again.

  12. SO very cool!!!! When we go we'll have to be on the lookout for your locket! So happy to see all those smiles.

  13. Just saw the snow in Beijing on the news! Trust you're all keeping well despite it - who would have thought you'd need winter boots?! Soon you'll be cozying up with Hannah at home - yeah!

  14. ok. It's Wed. morning. I'm here with my coffee looking to read the next chapter in your story. But alas, you haven't written anything in 2 days! I guess you're too busy living it to write about it. Enjoy! looking forward to seeing you both.

  15. Just wanted to stop by and say CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!

  16. Love all the details and pics of your trip. I feel like I'm there, too. Thanks for sharing so much. I'm sure it's hard to find time to post with all your new mommy duties. But I so appreciate this window into your experience.

  17. The pics of the Great Wall are incredible. We didn't make it there when we were in China.

  18. You are such a terrific mother and you are adjusting so well. I had such a rough start when I had my son --- I wish you could have been around!

    Thanks for sharing your amazing story and experience!


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