Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Arriving in Shanhaiguan

The hotel we stayed at was in the hutong style. So, behind Willow is our hotel room, and in front of her is a courtyard. There were many courtyards like this in the two story hotel. It also appeared that all the workers lived in hotel rooms. 

Since Tommy and Emma are visiting us in Shenyang right now, we've been trying to take them out to all the fun places around our city. Lots of pictures and stories to share about those experiences! But, we also wanted to show them the Great Wall, especially since Tommy had never seen it before. We went to a place, about two hours away by fast train, called Shanhaiguan. It is in a small city where the Great Wall meets the ocean. We went with some of our friends, who also had a visiting relative. It's a lot of work taking a baby on trips like this, and so I was so thankful to be with our friends who took over the main bulk of translating and figuring out all the details once we arrived. The helped us get train tickets, hotel rooms, transportation, was great to have help!

We left on a Thursday afternoon, and arrived around dinner time. The shocking thing about traveling by train this time around was that the new train station in Shenyang was finally finished! I can't even begin to explain the incredible difference it made. Mostly, the looks were changed--since it was still over crowded and crazy-- but it was about one hundred times nicer than it ever was before. Dark, crowded, cement floor/walls have been transformed into high-tech, shiny white floor/walls, and much better lighting. It was I couldn't believe the transformation, and all the mafan of navigating the construction in that train station for the past two years was totally worth it. It must have just opened because Adam had been to the train station in June, and it was still in the old location.

So, we arrived around dinner time, checked into our hotel rooms, and then went out for dinner. The weather was beautiful. Not too hot, not too humid.

Willow could see Tommy, Emma, and her dad leaving, so she started running after them. She hates to be left out! 

leaving the hotel to find some food. 

Candy bars that they pound with mallets. A specialty of Shanhaiguan. 

One of the gates (in the background) that is connected to a wall surrounding the old city we were in. It used to protect the city, but not its just a tourist attraction. 

My good friend, who made our trip possible, and her sister, walking down the street. 
We were about to walk into a restaurant for dinner, but since there was loud Chinese music blaring down the street, Willow had to take a dance break. I have some funny videos. 

People love Willow here. Even though she doesn't look full-scale western, Chinese people can still tell that she is different. These people, probably workers from the restaurant, just swooped her up and had her at their table for a few minutes. There were no requests to do this, they just did it. They were so friendly with  her, oohing and ahing, taking pictures and loving on her. But sometimes, it is a little strange. And I just have to remind myself that it is part of the culture here. 
After we ate a ton of yummy food, we headed to a small store to buy important essentials such as toilet paper, (apparently not included in the hotel amenities), bottled water, and ice cream bars! Now it was dark, all the touristy booths and shops were closed. So we headed back to our hotel room and tried to get some sleep on the hard beds and humid rooms. Emma and Tommy slept in one room with two single beds, and Adam and I slept in another room like it. We pushed the two beds together so that there would be less chance of Willow falling out (not much space on a twin to roll around!).

Sometimes....I think....why did we do this with a baby?

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