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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Great Wall

I was so excited the day we went to see the Great Wall.  I have been wanting see the GW since we arrived in China.  It was my favorite day.  When I taught 5th grade, I loved teaching the chapter on China and the Great Wall.  I can't believe that I finally got to see it.  We arrived and I was in awe.  To think that people built this hundreds of years ago without the modern tools of today is just unbelievable.

The first thing was saw as we began our adventure were the locks hanging on the side of the wall.  Our guide told us that people used to be able to get married on the wall and they would hang a lock to symbolize their "locked" love.  I wish I had remember this.  I would've brought a lock and placed it among the others.

Next, we started our climb.  We could see three or four towers on the mountain and we made that last tower that we could see our goal.  We wanted to make it to the top tower.  As we began our climb, we could already tell that this trip was going to be hard.  Immediately it was steep and the steps were tall.  As we made it to the first tower, we were already out of breath.  Well, mom and I were.  

Our climb ahead

Stopped at the first tower

Mom and me climbing.  It was hard and very steep.

Ronny and Joseph

At the second tower, Joseph was finished.  He stayed behind with our guide.  She took him back down to the bottom to play.  We kept climbing to the third tower and mom decided she was finished.  So, it was just me and Ronny.  We continued to climb and finally made it to our goal.  But, once we got there we realized that there were two more towers after that.  It killed Ronny to think about coming this far and not finishing.  He wanted to continue so I trudged along behind him.  Out of breath and moaning the whole way. 

 Leaving Joseph behind

 This sign cracked me up.  It was saying not to climb on the outside of the towers, but I always joked that the GW was dangerous and we weren't supposed to climb it.

 There was a large wall where everyone signed their names.

This sign was hilarious too!

As we were climbing the last two towers of this section of the GW, I suddenly realized that I REALLY had to go to the bathroom.  We had passed two bathrooms on the way that were disgusting and I didn't want to use them but they were nothing compared to the last bathroom that we came to.  I didn't go in, but Ronny said that he stuck his head in the building and thought he was going to puke.  Obviously, it is never cleaned.  So I decided to hold it.  

 Our view from the top.  We finally made it!

 Two little buildings off to the side of the wall.  We don't know what these were.

We Made It!  

I knew I was going to be sore after this, but I didn't realize how sore.  I have never been so sore in my life!  My right leg hurt the worst.  Sometimes, it would even give out on me as I was walking and I would almost fall down.  Even four days after the climb, it was still hurting and giving out on me.  But, I can now say that I've climbed the great wall.  I am so blessed to have had that experience.  Aside from Gotcha Day, this was my favorite day in China!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What It's REALLY Like In Beijing, China Part 2

8.  Paper products are a luxury here.  We read that you sometimes have to pay for toliet paper and soap in public bathrooms.  We have not had to do this yet, but we have used bathrooms that have the toliet paper outside of the stalls instead of inside.  Restaurants do not give large napkins like they do in the states.  Their napkins are more like the small square napkins that we serve with cake at birthday parties, but much thinner.  Or they give out travel size kleenexes for a napkin.

9.  We get a lot of stares when Ronny carries Joseph on his shoulders.  People here don't carry their kids that way.  They mostly just hold them.

10.  The bathrooms in China are disgusting.  They think it is gross to sit on a toilet seat that others have also sat on.  So they have what are called squatty potties.  It's like a flat toilet in the ground that they stand over and do their business.  I haven't had to use one yet but I have taken Joseph to the restroom and he has used them.  They are nasty.  There is always pee all over the ground around the potty.  They think it's gross to sit on seat and I think it's gross to step in pee!  Yuck!

11.  The pollution in Beijing is so thick it looks like it is foggy all the time outside.  Because of the pollution and the excessive smoking here, people spit constantly on the ground.  Nasty!

That is not fog that you see.  It is pollution.

12.  Squatty potties have to be the grossest thing that I have seen here.  But the 2nd grossest are split pants.  Some families don't potty train there children as early as we do and they dress them in split pants.  These pants have a slit from back to front where they can just squat and go.  But they don't take them to the restroom to go.  The just squat whenever they get the urge.  Yes, right on the sidewalk!  We saw a little girl do this at the children's park inside the zoo.  Nasty!  On a slightly different note, as we were walking down the street, I saw a mom tell her son who was about 7 or 8 to go pee by the fence.  So he walked right over there and did his business.  Right next to the street.  

13.  It gets to cold here that you will often see two girls walking arm in arm.  They do this, obviously, to stay warm.  I thought it looked sweet.  

14.  The hotel escalator runs at a slow speed until someone gets on it.  Then it speeds up to what would be normal speed.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What It Is REALLY Like In Beijing, China Part 1

This post is to tell you all about the everyday life in China and about the things that are different than they are back in the states.

1.  Traffic - If you have ever been to NYC, then you have experience bad traffic.  Well, that is nothing compared to the traffic in Beijing.  Just like in NYC, there are tons of taxis and hardly any trucks.  But, here the biggest thing on the road gets the right of way.  You may be thinking, "That sounds right."  Keep in mind that people are included in this.  Yep, that's right.  People better watch what's going on around them or they might get squashed!  Drivers often honk at people who are crossing the street and are in their way.  People are not even safe on sidewalks.  We have seen cars driving and parking on some sidewalks.  We haven't noticed how to determine which ones are car free and which ones aren't.  We still have not figured out all the rules of driving around here.  They seems to switch lanes without any reason.  As they turn a curve, they may drive into two different lanes than they were originally in.  There are many intersections that only have traffic lights on one of the two streets in the intersection.  We still haven't figured out how the street without the traffic light figures out when to stop and go.

2.  Fireworks - These Chinese New Year ended the week before we arrived.  But fireworks are still around to celebrate.  Every evening we hear them booming from all directions.  Sometimes we see them out our window and sometimes we can't.  Mostly because they are being shot from the middle of the streets and the buildings are blocking our view.  They even shoot them off during the day.  Which we haven't figures out why.  Joseph is so used to hearing them that he never flinches or desires to look at the sound when he hears them from our room.  We did see a guy shooting some off as we were walking down the road and he had quite a lot to say about them and he covered his ears.

3.  Cleanliness - They are very into keeping appearance of being clean.  I say it this was because the people themselves litter but the city has street cleaners who keep the streets clean.  They do a great job, but I still see litter on the ground.  The hotel maids clean our rooms several times a day.  We know this because we like to keep the windows open in our room and every time we leave and come back to our room the windows are closed.  However, they don't vacuum unless we ask them too.  Ronny forgot his toothbrush at home so he has been using the free one that comes in the hotel bathroom.  Today, we came in to find it in the trashcan and they gave him a new one.  I guess they thought he had used it to much and it was dirty.  LOL!  They are really into recycling here.  There are recycle bins instead of trash cans all over the city.

4.  Every thing here in China is a lot cheaper than in the states.  $1 = 6.5yuan.  So when we exchange our money we feel like we are rich.  The first day we exchanged $200 and got about 1400yuan in return!  We bought a Toy Story 1 movie from Walmart and paid $2 (USA).  We can go out to eat and feed our whole group for about $4 per person.  It only cost about $3 to take a cab across town.

Only $2!

5.  Ronny has found his new love, shopping in China markets!  lol!  He loves to negotiate the prices which is what is expected in Chinese markets.  They always start with a ridiculously high price and our guide, Veronica, said to start the bargaining at less the half the price they started with.  So if they tell you an item costs 85yuan, you come back a say that you will pay 40 yuan.  Then go from there.  Ronny is really good about sticking to the price he wants to pay.  He doesn't go much higher than half of the original price.  Then he walks away and the salesman will call him back and give the item to him at the price he wants.  He bought a new wallet for 35 yuan and their starting price was 180yuan.  35yuan=$5.  Then they told Ronny that he was a tough bargainer and that he had big muscles.  Ha ha!

6.  We've been told that it is not polite to stare at people in China.  However, we get stares constantly!  We were at Walmart and Joseph was sitting in the seat of the shopping cart.  As we passed a lady, she strongly stared at us for a while and then started asking me a question.  Veronica, told us she was asking why we were pushing a Chinese boy in our cart.  lol!  Veronic said that people hear don't understand adoption, but when this lady heard that we adopted him, she told us we were good Americans.

7.  Chinese people do not like to be cold so inside the buildings it is like 75-80 degrees.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Best Valentine's Day Gift Ever!

Today Joseph officially became our son.  We went to the Chinese Consulate and finished all the paperwork.  We wanted to take pictures but they wouldn't let us.  So I thought that I would take a picture of the certificate and post it.  Well, we won't get it until tomorrow.  Oh well.

Happy Valentine's Day to us!  Joseph Baojiang Waldo is part of our family.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gotcha Day!

I will never forget today as long as I live!  Wow!  Thank you God for giving us such a wonderful Gotcha Day.  We left at 9:30 this morning to go to Joseph's orphanage to get him.  Our nerves and anticipation were at their max.  We arrived at huge, beautiful building that was newer than what I had anticipated.  We were taken to large room which looked like a waiting room.  It had chairs that circled the room with end tables between them and a large empty space in the middle of the room.  They brought him in as we were finishing up some paperwork and he immediately started crying.  He cried for quite awhile.  They ended up moving him around the corner where he couldn't see us.  They talked to him for awhile, but you can tell when they mentioned us being his mama and papa but the would cry harder.  It was really sad.  I tried giving he a toy and he said, "I don't want it"  They told him to come and see us just for 2 minutes and he agreed.  They brought him to us and he reluctantly sat with us.  The whole time he kept saying "2 minutes, then I want to go upstairs."  Our guide talked to him for a long time with us.  By this point, he was sitting in Ronny's lap, eating a hot dog and still crying.  We started playing with the dinosaurs and the cars I brought by balancing them on his knee.  He would knock if off (probably because he wanted us to stop) and we would laugh and do it again.  We kept doing this and eventually he started laughing about it too.  Soon, he started playing with the cars too.  We crashed cars and dinosaurs for a long time.  As we took pictures we would show them to him and decided he wanted to look at all the pictures on my mom's camera.  So we let him and that led him to want to take pictures himself.  After he took several pictures, our guide told him that we should go outside and he could take pictures of the snow.  He agreed and that how we got him to leave with us.  From that point on it has been smooth sailing.

We left the orphanage and drove to the hotel.  We played for a few minutes in our room and left to go to McDonald's for lunch.  He doesn't seem to be picky at all with his food.  Our guide told us that his meals for different each week and so he is used to a variation of food.  After McDonald's we went to a market to get him some gloves and a hat.  We spent the afternoon in the room playing and went to the mall for dinner.  He told us that he liked that food better than McDonald's.

That night he slept very well.  He cried just a little when we went to bed but he was so tired from not getting a nap that he fell asleep fast.  He seems to be a hard sleeper.  He didn't wake up at all during the night.

We are having the time of our lives!  He is the sweetest and funniest little boy.  He makes us laugh all the time even when we can't understand him.  When he smiles, he wrinkles his nose and it melts our hearts.  He is a very happy little boy and very smart.  On the bus we were asking him if he liked the name Joseph.  He said, "No, my name is Chang Bao Jiang"  Our guide told him that his name translates to Joseph.  He was ok with it, but still doesn't like it."  The bus driver told him, "When you here us say, Joseph, you need to answer"  Bao Jiang said, "Drive your bus".  ha ha!  He is very funny.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 1

We are here!  We finally made it to China.  Our two flights here were the longest 14 hours that I have ever spent.  But praise the Lord, we made it safely and with all our luggage!  Today we had a free day to rest and recuperate.  Ronny is bound and determined to get us lost in Beijing.  Since our guide was touring with two other families who are not on the same schedule as we are, she was not around to help us.  So, Ronny planned our day.  I took my first taxi ever and we went to see the Beijing Olympic Buildings.  It was just as majestic as we remember seeing on TV 3 years ago.  We toured the Bird's Nest, the Olympic Aquatics Center and walked around the massive Olympic area they built for the 2008 Olympics.  Inside the bird's nest they were having some sort of winter festival.  There was so much to do inside.  They had snow hills, a life sized ice maze, ropes course, and bumper boats on ice.  We decided not to spend the money to do all of it because we are planning to go back and take Joseph.

After spending the morning sight seeing, we came back to the hotel and ate lunch.  Most restaurants serve their food family style so we ordered four different dishes.  We like 3 out of the 4.  Not bad!  My favorites were what we would call Pot Stickers in America and a beef and noodle dish that tasted a lot like roast beef.

We are staying at the Poly Plaza.  It is a nice hotel but as expected it is very hot in our room.  We have turned the air off and opened the windows.  It is in the 30’s outside but we are still hot because the outside air doesn't circulate much into our room.  The hotels here have all the amenities that we have at home.  Ours has a computer, flat screen TV, a hair dryer and a mini-fridge.  The beds are super hard.  Every hotel that I have stayed at in the US has had hard beds, but they do not compare to the ones in China.  

If every day that we are here is like today, we are going to have a great time!  Today was great.  So far the worst part of the trip was the flight.  We are meeting with our Guide, Veronica, (who we love!) tonight to discuss the details of Gotcha Day tomorrow.  I can't wait to meet Joseph and make him part of our family.  

Mom's room is across the hall.  We can leave our doors open and talk to each other.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Our Icy Frozen World

Well, there are only 9 days left until we leave for China and God is trying to prepare us for the cold weather.  Today it is 26* and the ground is covered in a blanket of ice.  So we did what we do best in Texas, we closed the schools.  Snow Day!!!!  Yippee!!!   As expected, Will wanted to go outside and play.  So we bundled up and headed out into the freezing, icy world outside.  It took lots of layers to be warm enough.

1st Layer!

2nd Layer!

3rd Layer!
(Can you tell that Katelyn is getting tired of pictures)

Then we put our coats on and head out.  It was sooo windy.  We only stayed outside for about 5 minutes.  Even Will was ready to come in.  They both had red, rosy cheeks and Rudolph the Reindeer noses by the time we can in.  Here are a few pictures of the snow ice.

This last picture is of all our clothes after we came inside and got undressed.  It sure was a lot of work for just 5 minutes of playtime.