The Great Wall of China

What a fantastic day! Absolutely gorgeous weather, the best we’ve had. I was so worried about being cold at the Wall – I’d read that it can be very windy. It was perfect! We had an earlier start than we wanted after such a rough day yesterday but it was worth it. It was one week ago today that I first held Katie in my arms…what a great way to celebrate!

We had a nice bus ride (always great to be driven through the city and now the outskirts to see more of where we are), stopped first at the Pearl Factory. Not much of a building from the outside but we saw a small demonstration of opening an oyster and seeing the pearls. There is a huge shop (of course) so we bought some items for the girls (and some for us). I bought Katie and I matching bracelets for when she’s older and a necklace for me. I think it was much less expensive than at home. Who knows if she’ll like it but it’s a nice memento. I don’t enjoy this kind of shopping. I’m terrible at making decisions and I don’t really know my prices or what Katie might like but I think we did fine.

Then we continued on to the Great Wall. There are several sections of it that are open to tourists and we went to the Juyong Pass section. It was bizarre to suddenly see bus loads of tourists milling about! I was especially excited for this part of the trip…I guess the Wall somehow symbolized that I’m really in China since I’ve seen so many photos of it. Nothing prepared me for that first view. We were at the bottom of a section that basically goes straight up! It was gorgeous and kind of shocking. I knew we’d be “hiking” on the Great Wall but this was unexpected. I brought my good camera and went crazy with photos. As usual, it’s difficult to truly capture the feeling of being there but I did my best. Only photos from my iPhone will be on the blog for now.

We climbed up the first section which was the easy part. We all had babies in carriers because we knew strollers were out of the question. The other moms stayed put but I climbed up the steep part for about 25 steps. Held on tight to the railing and took my time. I know it’s was a bit risky but I wanted to be able to tell (& show) Katie that we walked on the Great Wall. At one point we just sat down and took in the view and beautiful weather together. People kept climbing around us…it was a busy spot. She was pretty happy for the most part. I thought we should sing something so I quietly sang the Love Song of Kangding – a traditional Chinese melody we know from a Music Together collection. It was calming, appropriate and felt good:-) We climbed a little bit more and then waited patiently for one of the dads in our group to come back down from the top so they could take photos of us. No way was I missing this opportunity! A big thank you to Jeff who patiently took pictures from above! I then made my way down very carefully – the steps are bigger than we’re used to and very worn. I would never want to do this if it was rainy or cold!
What a thrill. Normally I would have gone right to the top…I love this kind of climbing, but I guess these are the sacrifices of a parent…right? I could NEVER have done it with 22 extra pounds strapped to my chest anyway 😉

We walked down and made a circle around a different section that was very flat and easy then made our way back to the bus. There were gift stands at several levels and I bought one very special thing for an important bit of symbolism that I will write about in the future but it has yet to be shared with the recipient 🙂

Katie slept on the bus again…I know it’s not a safe way to travel but they do not use car seats in China. That being said, I will be sad when we get home and can no longer ride snuggled together with her sleeping in my arms.

We knew we were going for lunch but had no idea what to expect. We ended up at this huge tourist destination…a Cloisinee factory with an enormous shop and restaurant inside. I am not generally one to hang with the “tourists” but we all agree that this was the best food we’d had so far! They brought a huge selection of food to our big round table and we enjoyed every bite…real vegetables! Katie was very happy too 😉 Until I had to change her diaper. We had to go to the public bathroom and a kind attendant woman helped me try to distract her. It was awful. I think I was traumatized 🙂 Her stomach was not good today at all…I can’t imagine why?! (sarcasm). We enjoyed doing some shopping in the store – it’s huge and it was empty once the bus loads left. Much less pressure than shopping the market in Beijing so we took the time to buy a couple of gifts. We found Katie’s English name written in Chinese symbols…a lovely souvenir.

Full and happy we got on the bus for the ride back…more snuggly sleeping.
Katie needed a bath when we got back, which she didn’t enjoy, but then we spent quite a bit of time with her sitting on the bathroom counter wrapped in a towel, exploring all the fun things Bibi had brought and then ceremoniously tossing them into the sink. Tons of fun! She coos and talks while she plays. It’s so sweet. I have no idea if any of the sounds are actual words but I love hearing them. Very amusing! Especially when she’s really proud of herself. She went to sleep as usual…such an exciting day!!!

I have Katie’s Chinese passport now and went to Sara’s room tonight to finish some paperwork for the Canadian Immigration appointment tomorrow. She will enter Canada as a Landed Immigrant and then we’ll apply for full Citizenship. This just might be the last of the paperwork but I’m not holding my breath…it has been never ending!
Finally going to sleep next to my girl 😉











4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Norman Grill
    Mar 18, 2013 @ 11:46:31


    I cannot begin to tell you how much we look forward to your daily letters,as I call them. We feel so much a part of this wonderful time. Should you ever think of another profession, writing is it.Your daily reports are unbelievable.

    Thank you so much.

    Looking forward to seeing you all

    Give Katie and Mom kiss and hug.



    Sent from my iPad


  2. Sydney
    Mar 18, 2013 @ 12:44:41

    you are going to be such aawesome mother


  3. judila416
    Mar 18, 2013 @ 15:15:31

    Risa: Your posts are so wonderful that I look forward to my daily helping of Special K, every morning. I`m excited for the three of you to come home and for my chance to say `Hello to Katie, So Glad to See You.`


  4. scrappinginontario
    Mar 18, 2013 @ 15:44:29

    Oh Risa! I love being able to picture exactly where you are as your share your amazing journey as Sara took us to those very same places!! I ache to be there again now that Hannah could begin to enjoy them! We were at the Great Wall on my parent’s 51st Wedding Anniversary but it was a cold, snowy day. I climbed about as far as you did to take in the view – and say that we had done it! Those steps are crazy!! So glad you shared this amazing journey with SK and now have pictures and stories to share with her later.

    We remember the lunch at the cloisinee factory and my dad still declares to this day it was the best meal we had our entire trip!! LOL – he brought back one of the little bottles of alcohol they served (I’m not a drinker so didn’t try it) but he gave his brothers some that Christmas and it cured anything that ailed them! LOL!

    Thank you, thank you for sharing your amazing journey with us! Enjoy – it’s the trip of a lifetime and you’ll relive these memories for years and years to come!


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