Sunday, September 21

Breakfast as usual this morning in the hotel. I am so going to miss the breakfasts here! Iím not usually a big breakfast person, but the breakfast food here is incredible! Everyday there is a buffet, which is included with our hotel. My typical meal is a big scoop of noodles, two or three spring rolls, two pork dumplings (just like the pot-stickers at TGI Fridays-yum!), two soft round things rolled in sesame seeds with some gooey brown stuff in the middle (not sure what they are), one white steamed bun with yellow gooey stuff in the middle (not sure what that is either!), one piece of Hong Kong French toast (two pieces of French Toast stuck together with peanut butter inside and honey on top), one piece of deep fried pumpkin, a glass of apple juice and a Diet Coke. Before we came here, I had decided that I was going to go vegetarian the entire trip. Well, that lasted until the first day in Beijing. The food was so outstanding at that first very Chinese restaurant we went to, that there was no way I was going to pass up the meat! So, weíre all being careful, but really trying (and enjoying) a lot of stuff. Iím so proud of the kids too. Theyíve all been finding things that they like just fine. Not one complaint! No one has been brave enough to try the chicken feet yet, but who knows, we still have a week left!

After breakfast, we walked with Michele to the Ten Wang Pagoda, about ten minutes from the Gloria Plaza Hotel where we are staying. (On the way there, Michele gave us each a small orchid, and said that it is typical for Chinese to wear an orchid because they smell so good!) The Pagoda was built 1300 years ago by Jiangxiís king. (Oh, by the way, I mentioned that the Great Wall is over 3000 years old. I was off by about 300 years. Itís really about 2700 years old, but whatís a couple hundred years! Itís still pretty darn old!) Anyway, the Ten Wang Pagoda is quite a beautiful structure. Itís just what I picture when I think of China! Before we went inside the building, we stood out in front and watched a performance by some young boys. The youngest two, probably around nine or ten-years-old, were spinning large porcelain pots on their heads. It was unbelievable that they did not drop them! Another one was spinning a large silver bowl on a pole, and balancing that on his forehead. The older boys, teenagers, were doing some acrobatics. They were balancing on each otherís shoulders, and doing summersaults off of one another. Quite impressive! We watched for a little while, and then went inside the Pagoda. I believe it was six stories high, and it was filled with paintings of famous Chinese artists, poets, officials and mountain scenery. The architecture was stunning! So ornate and colorful! Surrounding two of the floors were balconies that you could walk around the Pagoda on and look out over Nanchang and the Gan River. It was beautiful up there, although Iím terrified of heights when I have all the kids with me, so I didnít enjoy that very much! From up high we had a great view of some fishing boats with their nets cast out in the river. On the top floor was the kingís throne (Iím assuming a replica because they were letting people sit on it), where people were lining up to put on Chinese royal costumes, and then having their pictures taken on the throne. It was just like home, where we have studios that take pictures in old west costumes. I guess people really are alike everywhere! The top floor also had these two incredible paintings on the walls. They were huge murals, floor to ceiling, each of a different scene. It appeared that the wall was tiled with ceramic or porcelain tiles, and then the murals were painted on the tiles. Each one was done in very, very bright colors, and was very shiny.

After about an hour, we left the Pagoda and walked around the grounds of it, where there were some other smaller structures, many trees, and a pond with TONS of huge goldfish in it. We stood on a stone bridge that went over the pond and were allowed to feed the fish the rest of the dry cereal we had brought for Anna and Emma. That was so cool, because the fish practically jumped out of the water to get the cereal!

From there, we walked back to our hotel and had lunch (hard to believe after such a huge breakfast!). It was cooler again today, perhaps in the low 60ís. Itís so much more comfortable than the real hot days though, especially carrying the girls around in those baby carriers! When we got back to our hotel, there was a gorgeous bride and groom in the lobby of the hotel, along with many, many guests heading to their reception. We were intrigued by the fact that it looked so much like an American wedding! Iím not sure what we were expecting, but were surprised that it did not somehow look different.

Right now Scott is playing ping-pong with Bill, Alex, Katie and Rianne, and Iím up in the room typing while Anna and Emma nap. Soon theyíll be back, the girls will be awake, and weíll see what the night brings!

Love,

Terri, Scott, Bill, Alex, Katie, Rianne, Anna and Emma

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