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Here come my thoughts! Watch out!

The car ride was a little long.   We drove farther out into the Chinese country side toward Dragon Gorge.  As we drove, Mike told us a story about a Chinese Emperor who was looking for the Fountain of Youth.  He would send people out to look for it and if they couldn’t find it he would kill them.  Since no one could find it, the Emperor killed many people.  One day a man came to him and told him that he would be able to find the Fountain of Youth if the Emperor would send him with a large group of men and women and supplies to help them survive.  Desperate, the Emperor agreed to give the man everything he had asked for.  But the joke was on the Emperor.  The man took the group of people and left China.  Mike speculated that this group of people may have gone to Japan but no one knows for sure.  Anyway, I thought it was interesting.

We parked a ways a way from Dragon Gorge and had a lady with a van take us up the hill to the top of the gorge.  Mike told us never to do that if we were without a Chinese tour guide.

Dragon Gorge starts out as a cute little town made up of a hotel and restaurants.  There was a place for a stage where parties often occur.  It was a cute little town.  The mountains surrounding it had red Chinese characters but I didn’t ask what they meant.

Dragon Gorge

Going to Dragon Gorge was my grandpa’s idea and I’m glad he thought to go there.  It was well worth the trip.  We walked a little ways more and entered into the mouth of a dragon that was attached to a cliff.  Inside of the dragon were escalators that would take you to the top of the dam that was nearby.  We walked through a cave and found our way to the small boats that would take us on a lovely river tour of Dragon Gorge.  It was cooler here than anywhere else we had been so far.



We had to climb over a few boats before we could make it to ours.  I was a little nervous that I would fall in the water because there were gaps in between the boats.  But that was kind of an unrealistic thought.  Still though…it would have been bad if I had.  We found seats and sat down.  The trip down the river was relaxing.  Tall cliffs surrounded us on both sides of the river and many of the cliffs had blaring red words looking down on us.  It was gorgeous and relaxing and wonderful!

So pretty!

So pretty!

We passed by a place where you could stop off on your way back to the entrance and bungee jump.  Tyler and I told Mike that he should try it.  He wasn’t too thrilled with that idea though.  We continued on for a few minutes more and were dropped of at a landing site that had a small Buddhist temple at the top and other paths you could hike along if you wanted.  We went up to the temple.  It was quite and peaceful.  There was a small souvenir shop just before you climbed the stairs to the temple.  I wondered how often people actually purchased anything from that shop.   Tyler and I entered into the temple where there was a big bell.  I stepped up and rang it.  The sound was deep and lovely and it echoed off the mountains.  We didn’t stay long, but I’m glad I went in to take a look.

Wouldn't you want to ring it?

Wouldn’t you want to ring it?

"Kong!" said the bell.

“Kong!” said the bell.

As we headed back down the mountain to meet our boat, Mike asked us a surprising question.  He looked at us and asked, “You do this, right?”, as he crossed himself.  I was so surprised that he asked us that!  Christian religion is not something really allowed in China.  I felt nervous answering him because I didn’t want him to get in trouble, but we answered his question and explained that though we are Christians, we don’t cross ourselves.  He asked about our family’s life style and the roll of women and things he couldn’t have asked anywhere else besides out in the middle of nowhere.  Once again, I was hit with the realization that China is not a free country and I felt a little sad that these people are so curious and yet are kept from things they really want to discover.  I felt lucky and so proud to be an American.  The questions didn’t last long though as we made our way back to the boat.  We made it back to the entrance of Dragon Gorge and after taking a few more pictures made our way out of the park.

As we were leaving, a little girl came up to me and wanted to speak English.  I could tell she was unsure of herself so I said something in Chinese to try and open her up a little bit.  She said hello and went on her way.  Mike said she was too shy to speak English with me.  She was sure cute, though!

Small garden inside the park area.

Small garden inside the park area.

Funny English.

Funny English.

We left Dragon Gorge and headed back to Beijing.  Tonight, Mike was going to treat us to our next culinary adventure– Hot pot!  Hot pot is basically seasoned water you boil at your table and dip meat and other vegetables into to cook them.  I loved it!  It was so hot in that restaurant though, that people were taking their shirts off!  It was rather shocking!  And I could have done without the cigarette smoke that floated around the restaurant.  But I loved hot pot.  My favorite was the beef.  It was so thinly sliced and tender and delicious!  We made a huge mess at dinner but I don’t think anyone in the restaurant got away clean either, so I don’t feel too bad.  Next time I have hot pot it won’t be in the middle of the summer.  It’s much too hot.

We had one more item on our agenda that day, and that was a drive past the Olympic Village.  We were tired so we didn’t get out to look around but I will never forget how beautiful the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube were!  Beijing is an amazing place.  I’m glad the 2008 Olympics were held there.  I hope someday I can go back and visit again.

This was our last night in Beijing.  In the morning we were heading to Japan!  Finally I would be in the place I had only dreamed I would ever see!  I was so excited!  But at the same time, I had so completely enjoyed my time in Beijing that I was sad to go.  After only two days with Mike, it felt as if we had been life long friends.  Beijing was more than I had ever expected.  I’m so grateful I was able to spend time there.  Mike dropped us off at our hotel and told us he would pick us up and take us to the airport in the morning.  I went to bed that night dead tired and with bittersweet feelings.  Like I said, I hope I can return to Beijing someday.

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