First of all, I'm now officially behind the firewall, and loading photos is a big ordeal. I'll start by at least writing so you know where we are and what we're doing, and if an opportunity comes along to add photos, I'll do it.
After a very unique and good breakfast at The Orchid, we joined up with Nico and Elena from France and went with Jack to the Great Wall. After hearing about the touristy nature of some of the restored locations, we were happy to find Jack as he led us to a portion of the wall that is in its natural state, and during our time at that section, we passed five tourists and two guides.
It started with a 2-hour ride out of Beijing. We then stopped at a "restaurant" of local farmers and enjoyed the most authentic Chinese food we've ever tasted. There was an eggplant, pepper and potato dish; a pork rib and dough dish; a chicken, carrot and pepper dish; rice; a tofu dish; and some kind of doughy pie. It was all delicious, and it made Jenn's stomach very happy.
The hike was an 800m climb up rocky cutbacks to a watchtower. Once at the wall, we walked/hiked along the top. Some areas have just a slight grade while others are very, very steep. Some areas have held up under hundreds of years of weathering while other areas are nearly in ruins. And some areas have lots of plant life growing on them. The Great Wall is much like the Grand Canyon in that pictures simply do not do it justice. To see it in person and take in the sheer size and magnitude is sooooo much better than reviewing photos.
When we got to the restored section, the volume of people increased, as did the souvenir hawkers, who were so bad, they'd make the Sint Maarten beach venders blush.
We got a very good look at multiple areas of Beijing going into and out of the city. Not only was this a good tourist experience for the two of us, but a good cultural one, as well. We need as much of this as we can get for Henry's sake.
So now we're in our second Beijing hotel. It's pretty nice. Tomorrow morning we'll meet our guide, George, and most of the other adoptive families on our consulate date.