Monday, May 21, 2012

Saturday night it rained in Beijing, which cooled everything off a bit.  A nice breeze was blowing, which is good, because Aleah climbed to the top of the great wall.  It took exactly one hour to climb the Great Wall!  (No, I didn't even try!)  No doubt it beats the heck out of a Stairmaster!  We visited a jade factory in the morning and watched them carve jade.  They carved a ball inside a ball inside another ball, inside a bigger ball.  Totally incredible!  We then went to where they were making cloisonne.  I had no idea the gold in cloisonne is fired copper wire!  Very beautiful creations.  The painters had no pattern, so each item was unique, as they created it according to their own whim!
After climbing the Great Wall, we went to the Beijing airport for our flight to Chengdu, where I set off the alarm coming through and was thoroughly patted down!  Not a pleasant experience!  After that, I bought Aleah and I a frozen yogurt at TGBY, then FELL off the edge of the marble flooring when we were stepping down to go look for our gate number.  Fortunately, I landed on one knee, and despite having a laptop, purse, sweater, and camera bag, I managed to not hit my face by getting my arms up to break the fall.  Poor Aleah, she said she thought she was going to have a heart attack!  The other couple from Missouri was still in the airport, and Debbie came running to see if I had killed myself.  No such luck!!  We found our gate and Aleah promptly lay across a seat or two, put her head in my lap, and slept.  And slept.  And slept.  And slept.  She woke up once on the airplace to eat, then slept again.  Our flight was delayed by two hours, just as it was in Chicago . . .   Flying Air China is always pleasant.  Just a nicer, gentler version of America or United.  (That's just my opinion.)
I had noticed so many familiar companies in Beijing - Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Mobil, Guess, Honda, etc., that I wasn't surprised when we landed in Chengdu to see Ford and a Chevy Emblem with the words "Buick" on the wall of the building.  I guess if you're hungry, eat your import! 
An interesting sight we saw Sunday was long, long lines of trucks stopped in the highway's outer lane, which they call the "truck lane."  Our driver experienced a little road rage when he had to go around one or two who had pulled out of the line and was stopped in the next outer lane.  When he saw a group of the drivers standing by the side of the road, he pulled up and gave them what for.  According to Yoshi, our guide, the men laughed and replied it "wasn't their problem."  Sound familiar?  Yoshi said the trucks are not allowed in Beijing during the day, so the men, who were hauling coal down from Inner Mongolia, had to sit all day and wait for nightfall to take their loads into the city. 
We were sorry to part ways with Yoshi.  He was an interesting fellow!  The car he picked me up in was his own.  He said he turned thirty last year and decided it was time to buy his first car.  He said his parents are both teachers and make a good salary, but as a tour guide and with a wife who is a secretary, he could not pay his rent without his parent's financial help.  He said everything in China is as expensive as it is in the U.S., but wages are not compatible.  He has no children.  Debbie asked him if he planned to follow tradition and have his parents raise his child until school age.  He said it would be difficult for he and his wife to take care of a child while they were working, so it would probably be best if his parents took the child until school aged.  Also, he said that because his parents only had one child, and his wife's parents only had one child, he and his wife would be allowed to have two children.
The pilot of our airplane thanked us for being patient with the two-hour delay, stating there was a "priority flight" that held up his getting to Beijing.  I couldn't help but wonder if I was on the same plane that flew out the now-famed Chen! 
We hit a patch of rough turbulence - rough enough to make someone in the back scream and the man across the aisle from me grab his arm rest with one hand and put his other hand over his eyes.  Aleah slept through the whole thing!  lol
We were met by a very nice driver and young woman in Chengdu, who took us to The Dynasty Hotel.  Looking out our window this morning, I asked Aleah if she could sum up what she thought of China so far in just one word.  She said "Overwhelming."  She was sitting looking out the window at the time, a city of over ten million people.  She later told me she misses seeing the blue sky (it is rainy and drab here), and she misses the "blue sky smell."  She does not like the smell of China.
For those of you who know Aleah, you won't be at all surprised at this little quip:  We were talking about Ava and whether or not she would like us.  I said Ava was used to having a young, pretty foster mother and she might not like having a mother who isn't either one of those things.  Aleah quipped "If she has a good heart, it won't matter to her, and if it does, we'll just  leave her sorry butt in China."  (I apologize to those of you who don't use that word!)  Is she funny, or what?

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