Tuesday, August 13, 2013

That's a Great Wall!

Today we saw the Great Wall of China, the main reason for coming on this trip! When you think about visiting China that is the first thing our on your must-see list. Our guide assessed our physical fitness and decided to take us to the section of the wall at Juyongguan, rather than the more visited Badeling. We should have been flattered by his assessment when we saw the sheer number of steps to climb! We climbed for about an hour in the heat and humidity, and finally agreed that we had proven ourselves sufficiently and didn't need to see every beacon tower on the route!

Ed followed local custom and bought a lock engraved with our names, which he fastened to the chain along the wall. This guarantees us a long life together! We later found out that it was Chinese Valentine's day, making the gesture all the sweeter.

We split off from the main wall and took the cooler, tree lined path on the way down. Ed and John enjoyed it so much they couldn't help but dance.

 We visited two factories today, which were both very interesting. At the jade factory we learned that jade is really just a fancy kind of agate. I was a little disappointed in that, as it seemed less special. We also learned that really finely carved jade is also really expensive!

At the cloisonné factory we learned that the beautiful decorated enamelware is also hardy and can be dropped without breaking. We did not test this personally. It, like jade, is also expensive, but after a nice lunch on the second floor of the factory, we broke down and bought an owl key chain and a set of chopsticks. We found It difficult to enjoy shopping when you were accompanied by the enthusiastic encouragement of salesclerks everywhere you went.

In the afternoon we visited the Ming Tombs and walked along the Sacred Way. It was so nice and peaceful strolling down the lane in the shade of the willow trees.

The pathway was lined with stone statues like this lion where we stopped for a family picture. We learned more Ming history as we strolled along.

This is the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, the man that established the capital in Beijing, built the Forbidden City and was first buried in the Ming Tomb Complex. His name is easy to remember, because we share the same name. His is spelled Zhu De, but it is actually pronounced Ju-dy, with a heavy (angry-sounding) accent on each syllable.

We got to experience Beijing at rush hour on the way back to the city. We stopped for a look at the Olympic village and took a picture of the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube, with their unique architecture. The family pointed out that they were glad my seat in the van faced backwards, because the crazy things that were going on in the traffic free-for-all would have made me a nervous wreck! I was only awoken from my blissful ignorance a few times when we had to brake suddenly!

We finished off the day with dinner at Quan Ju De, a popular restaurant famous for serving Peking duck! The service was somewhat brusque and discombobulated, as if we were inconveniencing the staff by the mere fact of our being there, but our guide, Johnny, kept on top of them, and made sure we got all our courses. We had three kinds of duck, braised, roasted, and fried, all of which were just great. The roast duck is eaten with onions and cucumbers and wrapped in a "pancake" that looked exactly like a soft corn taco shell. We were very good at wrapping them and eating them. It seemed like a much more efficient food delivery system than chopsticks, although we are all managing very well with those, as well!


  1. That's alot of site seeing for one day. Can't help but be impress by the giant rubber ducky

  2. Crystal can thank me for getting her in shape to walk the Great Wall:) Impressive itinerary!