A couple of weeks ago, my family left on an 8 day adventure to CHINA!! My family adopted my little sister from China 20 years ago, & it’s always been a dream for us to get to go back & see the country she calls home! You can imagine how many pictures I took during our trip, so of course I had the hardest time narrowing down my favorite moments. God was so faithful to allow us to get to take this trip as a family, & I am so excited to share some of our favorite memories!!
We flew out of Jackson the morning on Monday, June 17. We had connecting flights in Atlanta & Detroit, & then we were FINALLY on our way to Beijing, China! A 13 hour long flight later, we arrived at the Beijing airport & were greeted by our AMAZING guide who became a part of the family. She took us to our hotel so we could get settled. We were able to walk across the street from our hotel to a coffee shop/restaurant for dinner, & I ordered chicken wings & fries haha! I could barely keep my eyes open — jet lag is REAL, y’all! I’m pretty sure we went to bed around 7pm!!
If you know me & my twin, you know we love Starbucks, so it was quite hilarious when we discovered that there was a Starbucks literally CONNECTED to our hotel haha! It was a blessing to get to start our mornings with good coffee :) We couldn’t have imagined a better first day of sightseeing in Beijing as we spent the day at the Great Wall! We took a bus ride & a cable car up the mountain to get to the spot where we were going to start our hike, & it was seriously AMAZING. It was HOT, but totally worth it to get to fulfill a dream come true!!
Our guide took us out for a delicious lunch at a restaurant near the Great Wall, & it was one of our favorite meals of the trip! We had walked SO much, so after our drive back to the hotel, we just rested & ate dinner at the mall by our hotel (chicken wings & fries for the win, again ha!) followed by dessert at Baskin Robbins of course!
Our second full day in Beijing, we started the morning with our usual breakfast at the hotel (Kendall was so happy they had noodles!) & then spent the morning seeing Tiananmen Square & the Forbidden City. If we thought the Great Wall was a lot of walking, then day 2 was double that haha! But it was so cool to see such important parts of Chinese history. For lunch, we went to a well known restaurant that serves the famous Peking duck, & it was an awesome & interesting experience! Our sweet driver had to help Dylan & I with our chopsticks - we were definitely still trying to get the hang of those, but by the end of the trip, we were pros (or so we like to think!)
In the afternoon, we got to visit a foster home where kids with special needs & kids recovering from surgery live. We got to meet some of the most amazing & sweet kids & will never forget our time with them!
Our third day in Beijing, we visited the Temple of Heaven which was beautiful & SO much to see! There was a specific spot where you could clap & hear an echo (if you clapped once you heard one echo, twice you heard two, etc.), & I love the picture of Dylan standing next to a lady & her daughter trying to hear the clapping echo! Mom joined in with a group of ladies exercising (too funny!), & then a nice man asked us to play a sort of “hackie sack” game with him & asked to have his picture taken with our mom & Kendall! We also got to see a group of men crowded around watching a game of chess. For dinner that night, our guide took us to an authentic dumpling restaurant & we got to try several different kinds of dumplings!
On our fourth & final full day in Beijing, we got to see a bride & groom right after their wedding ceremony, so you could say that all of my dreams came true!! I was SO excited & had to take a couple of pictures on my phone! I really hope the professional photographers didn’t mind - I promise I stayed out of there way :) We spent the morning at the Summer Palace which was BEAUTIFUL! I took so many pictures!! We also got to ride a boat which was super fun! The picture of Dyl below is him finding an air conditioner in the gift shop which was hilarious! Right when we walked up to the Summer Palace area, a precious man drew me in water on the concrete — it was so sweet!
That afternoon, we got to tour the Olympic Village where the 2008 summer games had taken place - definitely a highlight of the trip! I’m not sure how we made it walking so much in the heat, but thankfully we did!! Then we got to take rickshaw rides arounds the Shicha River! That night, our guide took us to her favorite local restaurant where we had a delicious meal & the most incredible dessert EVER! Of course Dyl found a Nike store in the mall we went to :)
The next morning, our guide took us to the train station where we took two train rides to get to the town where Kendall is from (photo credit to my twin for the picture of Kendall looking out the train window). In between the two train rides, we got to eat McDonald’s for lunch & it was AMAZING since we were all craving some American food haha! When we got to our destination, our guide for our time there met us at the train station & took us to our hotel for the night. We then walked to dinner at an authentic restaurant & ate what was definitely the most interesting meal of the trip :) Our guide then walked us around some of the streets, & it was so cool to get to see everything at night! When we got back to our hotel, I got to meet a local wedding photographer who’s studio was in the lobby - so cool! He didn’t speak English, but even though we couldn’t communicate, we got to show each other some of our work. It was so fun & he is SUCH a talented photographer!!
The next morning, we had the honor of visiting the orphanage where Kendall had lived (both their new building & their original building where Kendall lived). The leader of the county was there & gave us all gifts (truly amazing & humbling). The most special gift was for Kendall - a framed canvas photo of her when she was just a baby, a photo none of us had ever seen. Kendall gave him a gift as well - a set of ties, which he thanked her for over & over. We had also brought some gifts for the other caregivers, one of which was Mississippi cheese straws! One of the most special moments of the day was us getting to meet a young lady who had lived in the orphanage at the same time as Kendall & who now works there & helps take care of the children who live there now. We were overwhelmed by all of their generosity & kindness towards us. They had put up banners to welcome us, including one that had Kendall’s original Chinese name on it! Another incredible moment of the day was that we got to meet one of the nannies who had taken care of Kendall for the first two years of her life. What were the chances we’d get to meet her?! Only God could orchestrate a detail like that, friends.
Following our visit to the orphanage, we got to see the most beautiful lotus flower fields & then were surprised with the most INCREDIBLE lunch hosted by the leader of the county. Everyone was beyond gracious towards us & we will never forget their hospitality! We then got to go to a grape farm where several of us got to cut some grapes for ourselves (the most delicious grapes ever by the way). The sweet man who owned the farm gave Kendall an entire box which was truly special.
That afternoon, we took another train to Shanghai where we met back up with our original guide! She took us to one final authentic Chinese dinner & then walked us around to see the INCREDIBLE Shanghai skyline! It was the perfect way to end the most amazing trip. I’ll be forever thankful that we got to take this trip as a family!