October 13th · October 13, 2006

The Great Wall and the Cloisonne Factory

Today has already been a busy day and it is only 4:00 pm.  We left bright and early for the Great Wall.  It was a 1 1/2 hour bus ride.  Our guide spent the time in the bus telling us about the wall and China in general.  Did you know that the wall is 6,050 kilometers long and runs through 9 provinces?  The longest part of the wall was constructed during the Ming Dynasty.  It was a bit cold and breezy on the wall but once we started climbing we quickly started to peel off our layers.  The surface of the steps are uneven and the steps vary in height from step to step.  One step may be 6 inches and then the next 3 may be 18 inches high.  Danny's height and my blonde hair really make us stand out here.  Some Chinese men and women even asked us to take pictures with them at the wall.  Baker's red hair really would have been a hit here.  He would have gotten so tired of people touching it and taking his picture.

On our way to the Great Wall we saw many interesting things including a moat that surrounds the old city and the new stadium being constructed for the 2008 Olympics which will be held here in Beijing.  We also saw rural housing and the way some of the people live in the countryside.  The entire bus grew quite as I am sure everyone was wondering if the child they are adopting would have been raised in those conditions. 

We also visited the governments cloisonne factory today.  Cloisonne is a detailed art involving the following steps.  The basic piece is made of copper and then a design is sketched for the piece.  The artist then makes the design piece by piece out of tiny copper wire. The next step involves someone hand painting the piece using an eye dropper.  The paints are all different minerals mixed with water to get different colors. The piece is then covered in a glaze to make it shiney.  The piece then goes into an oven where it is baked at 1400 degrees.  The work is very beautiful but also pricey.  We bought an ornament for our Christmas tree since we always buy one when we travel.  I'm including pictures of the workers working on some vases.  We also learned that the workers live in dorms there at the factory. 

We are traveling in a group with other adoptive families.  One of the families brought their 3 year old daughter with them who was also adopted from China two years ago.  She is a hoot and she really likes Danny.  I'm including a picture of her wearing Danny's sunglasses.  Danny asked her if she thinks he has Little Tykes stamped on his head since she loves to climb on him.  She is getting a baby sister in just two days.  Her sister is at the same orphanage as our daughter.

This has so far been an amazing trip.  We are soaking in the culture and learning as much about China and the people as possible so that some day we will be able to answer Brea's questions about her homeland.  Some things that we have learned are...a smile is universal, bargaining with the shop keepers is half the fun of shopping, we have a new appreciation for western toilets and toilet paper and the Chinese people are kind and helpful and appreciative that we are here to bring one of China's children into our family.

So long for now from Beijing.  We are off to explore silk street with our travel group.


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Our first glimpse of The Great Wall
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