Tuesday, November 4, 2008

10-20-08 – Jade factory, Great Wall, Lunch, Ming Tombs

We went down to breakfast at the same time as yesterday, but it was very busy and hard to get food and eat it before time to get on the bus. So, I started out the day without much food in my stomach, which ended up not being a good thing!
Our first stop was a very fast 2 minutes to take pictures of the “Bird’s Nest”, the site of the 2008 summer Olympic games. Officially, they are not allowed to stop really, the police moved everyone along.

I guess they want people to pay to get inside and take their pictures then. After that it was off to the Jade factory! We were showed how jade goes from a dull, unremarkable looking piece of stone into some of the most intricately detailed pieces of art! It was amazing, I never knew that jade was any other color than green, but there is red, gold, blue, rose, and a copper color called Cat’s Eye. We were again let loose to shop and I spent about 1,000 Yuan or $150 US on more gifts and even a few things for myself!

After that we headed over to the Great Wall. It was very surreal and I kept looking at everything without belief, it was all just too much! We started hiking and I got to thinking right away that I was not going to make it far. It was very steep, with ramps and steps intermingled. All the steps were different depths, so much at one point it was more like rock climbing then walking up steps. I got up the first big incline and thought that this was far enough. It wasn’t how far I climbed, but just the fact that I was here! But then as I looked up at the huge climb left before reaching the top, I found myself starting to walk. I was not going to come this far and not get to the top! I just walked really slowly and steadily and before I knew it I was at the next flat area. A couple of the other students and I gave each other encouragement and we finally made it to the top.

I bought a bronze card at the top from a vendor who etched my name and the date on it to “certify” that I had made it to the top. This was such a sense of accomplishment for me because I have not pushed myself physically since I miscarried the baby a few weeks ago. This climb was really hard, but I did it and I have a renewed feeling that I can do anything! I can finish this MBA program, I can have another baby!

The climb down was tough, since it was so steep, and our legs were really shaking! I stopped to buy a painting from a guy who was sitting on the steps, painting these detailed pictures with some ink and his fingernail. I bargained with him to get the price I was willing to pay, but I saw others barter him lower as I was leaving! I don’t really care, I got what I wanted, for what I was willing to pay and I can’t fault the man for making a living!

After that we headed for lunch where again I did not eat much. I was starting to feel that “hungry sick” feeling of low blood sugar, but the rich food was not doing the job. As soon as we finished I started feeling sick to my stomach. I spent some time in the bathroom, but got nothing but dry heaves, which did not make me feel better. I had some Pepto Bismol on the bus and started feeling slightly better after I took some of that.

We drove to the Ming Tombs, which is this wonderful garden area. It is a pathway lined with weeping willows and enormous stone animals.

They played this soft music as you walk through the garden and it suddenly hit me! I am in China! I am really witnessing all this history and majesty. I started to tear up and got a lump in my throat, so I put the camera away and just basked in the wonder of this whole experience. I closed my eyes and listened to the rustle of the trees and the soft music. I let my mind float and just be happy being here and having this experience.

As soon as I got back to the bus, I started feeling worse again; I took more Pepto Bismol and tried to talk myself out of being sick. We drove to the other side of the tombs and while it was beautiful, I was concentrating so hard on not getting sick that I did not enjoy it much. Someone on the bus had Alka-Seltzer, so I sipped on that and kept my eyes closed for the hour or so that it took to get back to the city. I was feeling sort of numb and tingly all over and had to keep taking deep breaths to keep from heaving.

I was really unhappy about feeling sick, mostly because I was going to have to miss the acrobatic show planned for the evening but Lei made the call that everyone was probably too tired to fully enjoy the show so we rescheduled it for another night. Ann and I took a taxi from the restaurant back to the hotel. She was very concerned about me and made sure that I made it to the room ok. I hate that she missed dinner, but I was very glad to have someone watching my back. I took a shower and laid down for a couple of hours and started feeling better. I nibbled on a granola bar and drank some water, and while I don’t feel back to normal yet, I have a feeling that I will live!

The tailor stopped by with the suits that Ann ordered and my coat/shirt. It was a lovely, soft silk and she pinned it on me to make sure that she would sew the buttons in the right place and hem the bottom and sleeves to fit me. I have never had a piece of clothing made just for me, and even though I was feeling lousy, I was really excited about it. She will be back tomorrow with the finished product.

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