The Great Wall, Duck, and Singing
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 3 of 7 › view all entries
So today was the day we left to see one of the 7 Wonders of the World - The Great Wall. The amazement started before we even got there at just how it looked before we got near the gate and heard a brief history of the wall. It is amazing to note that no one ever attacked the wall and succeeded; but on at least one occasion the enemy got through because of a traitorous general at the gate. Also, the Great Wall was important for the silk trade, which makes sense because the Mongols were the enemy, so the wall was started with the very first emperor - Emperor Qin. Of course it was really built up during the Han Dynasty (or my dynasty - haha). Yet, enough with the history if you wanted to know that, then you would be reading a history book. :o)
When we arrived we were one of the first buses there, which is important to note as you read on. I was happy when they allowed us to climb the wall at our own base, which for me was right away, although I ended up being the second to the top from our group (yeah, shame on me). The wall was harder than I thought. I personally thought that the wall would me high; but once you got up it was just a walk in the woods. (I guess I took the word “climb” to literary.) Instead you get to the “top” of the wall quickly; but climb to the junction, where the two walls meet. In other words, at the gate is where you can walk on “top” of the wall and there are 2 different sets of gates at each passage, so you could theoretically walk up to the junction of the 2 gates and to the other gate (or back again). We only walked to the junction and back again because of time. If I go back, then I would definitely walk the whole loop, even if it kills me, which it probably will. :o)
I believe the hardest part about climbing the wall is the fact that the steps are all different heights there were some steps that were probably a foot high and some an inch high.
But, like I said I made it to the top and for what it’s worth I am a “hero” to Chairman Mao and received the non-photo hero card, while I was up there.
We then left for a smaller town outside Beijing to visit another factory this one was a “cloisonne” factory, which was interesting because we learned how the intricately, decorated vases that China is known for, well at least ancient China. It is interesting to know that the detail is not just painted on; but outlined with copper wire, which the creator still cuts out by hand and glues them on. I realize a lot of this may just be propaganda; but it is still interesting to think that at least this is how it was once to be done, even if it may be done a bit differently in some sweat shop.
We then at lunch and the only noteworthy thing here is we all tried what became to be known in our group as “jet fuel” or a very strong Chinese liquor. If I figure out the name, then I will post it.
We were also warned that this shop was one of the only shops tourist could shop at in China, when it first opened to outsiders and you could only use “Friendship Dollars.
We then went to what is called the Sacred Way, which is the area the Ming Emperor’s were buried. This is not where they were buried (since there is not much where the tombs are located); but it is where the emperor’s walked to visit the tombs, which all the emperors did at least once. It was cool to learn about the ceremony, involved and was so cool that I did not feel like flying a kite during this time; but wanted to listen to the tour guide (I could fly a kite any time). I learned how to tell the officers apart and that the animals there all had significance and the reason why there is one animal resting and one working (standing). The standing animal is there working to honor the emperor and at midnight they switch. It is also interesting to note that unicorns are not considered happy creatures in the Chinese culture. They are again more associated with death.
Well it was a nice casual stroll, after which we went to another “factory” the Jade Factory. The only thing to note here is we learned how to tell real jade from other stone-like material. There are three checks you can do: 1) It should feel cool to the touch, 2) If you bang it against something hard, then it should ring, and 3) Light does not pass through it, unlike glass.
After this busy day we quickly headed back to the hotel and then went off to the Peking Duck Restaurant (“Peking” is/was “Beijing” in the southern dialect). Peking Duck is definitely something you should have, not only because it is famous; but because it is so good and it is a way to eat duck, not necessary a recipe. It is duck, with a sauce, scallions, and wrapped in a rice “tortilla.” The place we ate at was right off the Qianmen subway station. I do not have the name.
We then, finished the night with a night at the Beijing Opera.