Watching the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics has been a MAJOR Flashback Friday for us…it takes us back to the summer of 2008 and our trip to China just before the Beijing Olympics!
We traveled to China for a few weeks in June 2008 right before the August Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
This was the first time our family traveled to an Eastern country. Beijing took our breath away. All of China embraced the upcoming Olympics. The building below was custom built to forever honor the Olympic flame:Why were we there? Well, our daughter’s choral group was selected to perform for Team U.S.A. Olympic athletes as they prepped for their trip to China. Athletes were asked to attend one of several Olympic “conferences” to learn about protocol, traveling with the teams, Chinese customs, etc. CeeCee performed at the conferences in D.C., Los Angeles, and Chicago for the Olympic athlete hopefuls. That in and of itself was an incredible opportunity. The athletes were so sweet to the children. CeeCee was so precious in her official outfit:
But wait. There’s MORE!
Our group traveled to China to perform and see first hand where Team U.S.A. would compete! We visited Beijing, Xi’an, Shangahi and Hong Kong. (We took a few extra days and extended our trip to stay in Hong Kong (loved Hong Kong Disney!) and to visit the island of Macau in the South China Sea- so worth it!) Our flight was a polar flight; we flew from Newark to Beijing which took us over the North Pole. The pilot, who knew there were dozens of children on board, made sure we all knew we were over Santa’s territory. It was a very neat moment for the children on so many levels…..were were ALMOST TO CHINA!
After checking in to our hotel in Beijing we wen to…..THE GREAT WALL.
You must be wondering about the Santa hat.
Because it’s June, right?
All I can say is it is NEVER to early to plan for Christmas cards! That hat flew from Florida, over the North Pole and into Beijing…..just for a fabulous Christmas card!
I would do it again. In a heartbeat!
The Great Wall.
Our family moments on the Wall are hard to capture in mere words or photos. The picture below is one of my favorites. The three ladies from the countryside of China were on their first pilgrimage to the Great Wall. They had never seen a redhead before or a Santa hat (Christmas is not celebrated in China) and they clamored for a picture with CeeCee!
Our family enjoyed exploring the wall…
After the Great Wall, we toured a few of the Olympic venues. Below is a picture of the three of us in front of the Beijing National Stadium, affectionately known as the Bird’s Nest, where the Opening Ceremonies were held. It was built not only for the 2008 Summer Olympics but is also planned to house the 2022 Winter Olympics, too.
And, that marble building to our right? It was a T.G.I. Friday’s. The picture is a little blurry….we were in a rush to get back the hotel!
The other reason we were a little hurried was because Chinese soldiers kept onlookers and bystanders away from our group as we left the restaurant and boarded our bus. The construction area surrounding the Bird’s Next invited curiosity, as did bus loads of Americans.
Our bus drove right by the BRAND NEW Olympic Village. China took extra measures to make sure Olympic Village was top notch and safe.
So, now that I am on the subject accommodations, I would be remiss if I did not share with you a photo of a non-Western toilet. You were waiting for this, I know! 🙂 I hope that the Olympic Village had Western toilets and not these:
This was a ladies stall.
Yes, ladies are forced to squat like they did in the fields 100 years ago.
The picture above was one of the “nicer” toilets.
CeeCee and I used these all throughout China. Enough said.
(Note: The T.G.I. Friday’s next to the Bird Nest had Western toilets. There was a looonngg line for the ladies room!) 🙂
The people of China were so warm and welcoming. Our daughter left with a global mindset. The fall after our trip, she enrolled in Mandarin Chinese and continued with the language for six years. It was a trip will always stay in our hearts.