Waking up in Beijing was a little surreal because it signaled the beginning of a new continent, and here we were, in the captial of the largest country in the world, China. We were also excited to get into the city because we were going to be meeting up with our friends from our Africa trip, Ai and Dan. They are a great couple to travel with, and they are doing the same journey around the world, with just a little bit different schedule than us. It was a little overwhelming at first with thousands of people heading in every direction, buses, cars and scooters weaving thru the congested traffic and all of this happening under a thick blanket of smog. At first we didn’t realize much of it was related to all of the coal power plants surrounding this enormous city. I really couldn’t imagine how someone could live under such a constant haze.
We started our visit with The Temple of Heaven. This was our first day walking around, enjoying the history China has to offer. A pleasant surprise was that the temple area had a park on the grounds, where there were locals dancing, exercising, doing Tai Chi, and playing with some sort of ribbon wands. We were very surprised to see all the active elderly people in the park. The architecture of the temple was a beautiful sight, with vibrant reds, greens, and blues, all accented with gold leafing.
The next day was 10-10-10, which is an important date because I was born on the 10th (in April), and it was my soccer number for many years, so it was a special date for me as I will only experience it once in my life. We headed over to a section of the Great Wall by Badaling, which was a little more touristy, but it allowed us to spend plenty of time there because we took the train instead of joining a tour group. We were joined by Ai and Dan and ready for a great day. The air was cool and crisp along with the overcast haze that never seemed to leave. I knew the Great Wall was very large structure but I didn’t think it was going to be so steep. If you didn’t wear the correct shoes you’d be slipping and falling on your butt!
After a tiring few hours of walking along the wall and through the outpost towers we decided we would start heading back to where we started from and grab some lunch. That’s when Adam pulled me to the side and wanted to show me something he made for me on our iPod. It was a cute video of our dogs running around with a great song in accompaniment, it got to me cause if you know me you know how much I love my dogs and I got all teary eyed, because I miss them A LOT. Adam told me that I wasn’t supposed to cry. That’s when the end of my video was coming to an end and the words “Dana will you marry me?” came up and Adam had a ring in his hand. My heart stopped, I wiped my eyes and said, “Really?”, like it was a joke or something. I couldn’t believe it! Of course I said yes. I’ve been waiting for this day for so long and here it was . I was so wrapped up in site seeing and going to the Great Wall I was distracted with my favorite number being 10, and not thinking about the actual day. Adam had done a great job and I couldn’t have asked for a better proposal, and with our new friends there it made it even more special.
When we returned to our hotel I called my parents right away, not thinking that we were 13 hours ahead of them, and ending up calling at 4 am (Chicago time) My Mom picked up and like any mother would do, asked me what was wrong, and if we were OK. We were better than OK, I was on top of the world!