Travel 03/26/2005

Keith reporting:
We started out the day with a Chinese/American breakfast which consisted of some of our "normal" ham and sausage, combined with fried rice, dumplings, salad, steamed vegetables and a few things we couldn't identify. We thought it all was pretty good, but some members in our group were a little more picky than us.

We met the other three families in our group that are here with us in Beijing. (We're meeting two to three other families tomorrow in Nanchang when we get our babies!) Jeremy and Allsion are a really nice, young, first-time-parents couple like us from Murfreesboro. Our kids will probably spend lots of time together in the future. Jim and Reneah are parents of three from Owensboro, Ky; Jim is a car salesman who can talk up a storm, and could probably sell Chinese food to the Chinese people. He and I spent alot of time together today, and I already consider him a friend. Tim and Tina are from Georgia, and are also really nice. Tim is a wizard at price haggling with the locals; I believe they'll be paying him to take their products before we leave here. Karen knows much more about the wives, and will probably say more about them later.

The eight of us boarded a tour bus along with our Chinese guide "Sim" and his driver, and headed for Tiananamen Square (remember that's where the Chinese student stood in front of the military tank during the Chinese protests of 1989). We saw lots of folks flying kites, and many, many soldiers in uniform. While there we also went to the Forbidden City, the 600 year old imperial palace and home to 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is over 720,000 square meters (what a house)!

After a wonderful Chinese lunch and a tour of a jade factory (very popular in this part of the world, and also very expensive), we made our way out of Beijing and went to the Great Wall of China. (Over 4000 miles long, it took over 2000 years to build!) We climbed up a section of the wall, ascending over 1000 vertical feet and better than 1500 steps. It was truly amazing to see, and I'm sure that our pictures will not do justice for this wonder of the world. From there we headed back toward Beijing for a tour of a pearl factory, and another good Chinese dinner.

Back at the hotel, we all try in vain to get some rest, knowing that tomorrow is the day we travel to Nanchang. If all goes as planned, we will have Kasen by this time tomorrow night! What a miracle!

We'll have high speed internet capabilities at our next hotel, and should start including pictures with our posts tomorrow night. Karen, KASEN and I will write to you all again tomorrow night. Good night. (P.S. Happy 18th birthday Elizabeth!)