Saturday, March 11th - The Great Wall and navigating Beijing solo

by Kristi Van Dyk

A quick note before we begin, I'm treating these blogs as a journal of sorts, so feel no pressure to read each day and please don't think me obnoxious. Someday I hope our son desires to read about our journey and hear the stories of how he came into our family. I want to not miss a detail, or forget a moment where God showed himself, however small it seemed at the time. So, I hope you enjoy reading but also realize these days aren't all earth shattering and I know that ;) 

On a second note, I am sorry for the typos and grammar issues. I compose each post on a iPad. Someday I'll go back and edit. Ugh... 


Yesterday morning began with a flat iron incident (pretty sure I already had my best hair day of the trip) and a massive breakfast. For Benny, food is going to be the hardest part. He staunchly refuses to eat Chinese food, so he gorges himself on western style food whenever he can. Our hotel has a breakfast buffet that includes waffles. He's proud to say he had 5 waffles, a fruit plate and a bowl of cereal. Normally I'd limit his carbs, but given his energy expenditure and limited intake, we will just rejoice that there is one meal he likes.


Our guide and driver helped us change our money at the bank today so we could go to the Great Wall. What an amazing experience. We road a ski lift up to the point at which we hiked and then walked at least 15 of the available 17 watchtowers. A group of teen girls cursed at Ben's incredible Mandarin (our guide laughed and laughed at them) and we took tons of pictures. Ben signed his Chinese name on the wall and our guide circled it with a heart, hoping we come back someday and can find his name. It was about 61 degrees when we started the climb and close to 70 by the time we finished. It was a gorgeous day. 


Judy, our guide, told us that we should head down the toboggan route and grab some lunch before we head home but we should leave before 3:00 as weekend traffic is impossible and it starts early in the day. We enjoyed our ride, but were frustrated that the person in front of us kept stopping! We never really got a great pace.  But, it was still really amazing.  

Judy and I found a restaurant (her recommendation) with great food. The boys found a Burger King ;) I do not regret my Kungpao Chicken,  but it was at least triple what I normally eat for lunch, so I could scarcely eat half. 

After driving home Steve and I needed a short nap and Ben got some screen time since he napped on the entire 90 minute drive home. Once refreshed we decided to embark on our first solo adventure. We wanted laundry soap and dinner.

We successfully navigated the busy malls to find soap and coca colas and more bottled water. We then found the restaurant our guide recommended and had an amazing noodle dinner (Steve too. Ben refused even to eat one he's going to be very hungry at breakfast today). We were a disaster with chopsticks and we made Benji go ask if they had forks. We couldnt tell if they were laughing at his cuteness with language or at us trying to eat but regardless, there were no forks. I fully plan to master chopsticks (as best I can) before we go. Steve ate far less of his dinner than I simply due to the difficult navigation of noodle to chopstick to mouth. But he did a great job trying ;) we were in bed again very early ...  by 8:30 for sure. 


Tomorrow we meet our guide early and visit: the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City and Tienamen (pretty sure I butchered that spelling) Square and then say goodbye to Beijing. Our Beijing guide and driver will leave us at the bullet train which we will navigate solo and arrive in the hands of our Xi'an guide and driver when we step into the new province. 

Incidentally, as I sit here blogging I can hear my son sleep talking. Around 2:30 am he woke me vehemently shouting in Chinese. He's doing it again and I'm seriously trying not to laugh out loud. How amazing is that... seriously friends, this immersion language in action and in country is beyond our wildest imaginings and I think it will only get better as we meet our Joshua in about 52 more hours. 


Just your average sunny Friday, racing your new Chinese friend down the steps of one of the most iconic sites in the world.