We wake up to another beautiful day, blue skies and low humidity. Today is our Great Wall day and the group is excited. After a breakfast of congee for John and curried vegetables and lentils for me we are ready to hit the road. I also must mention that the crunchy, spicy pickled vegetables and the pretzel rolls are welcome additions to breakfast. We are going global.
As it turns out, even though we leave for the Great Wall before 7AM, we are not the only ones on the road. Beijing is a city of 5 million cars plus all the visitor’s cars for this middle day of the three day holiday. We arrive shortly after 8 AM. After making sure that our needs have been taken care of in the 4star Happy Room (bathroom), we have a group photo and then we are off to the Wall.
There are A LOT of Chinese people here as well as assorted tour groups. The most popular site for Chinese here at the Badaling Hills section of the Wall is the direction that takes them to a rock with an inscription by Mao. We are advised to go in the other direction. We still have a lot of company but it
is not like the surging mass of humanity going in the other direction.
The Wall is very steep. John and I are really glad we have brought along our hiking poles. My hip is killing me and it is difficult to climb the stairs and the steeply sloped areas. But we persevere. We climb to a couple of towers and then John goes a little further. We take endless pictures. The wild cherries are in bloom in the mountains. All in all it is a great experience.
Making our way back down is a scary prospect. It would be easy to lose control and go careening down the Wall but we return safely, find a quiet spot for some green tea, and do a little shopping at the Friendship Store. I buy two beautiful silk overblouses.
Time for Jimmy folks to get back on the bus! We make our way very slowly through unbelievable traffic to a restaurant for lunch. But first a quick sales pitch for jade since this is a restaurant and giant jade store. Lunch is the frantic Susan again but is enhanced by 112 proof Chinese fire water. We then wander around the jade store pursued by eager sales associates.
Jimmy people! Back on the bus! (to be continued when we get back from today’s activities – visiting Tiananmen Square with a billion other people for May Day!)
Continuing with our Great Wall day – After lunch we battle traffic to the Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs. Jimmy tells us that there were 14 Ming emperors and that 13 of them are buried here. We walk down a shaded lane guarded by massive stone sculptures of officials, soldiers, and all kinds of animals, real and imagined. We take time to pet the head of the giant turtle which will bring our family good luck and longevity.
Needless to say we are a little tired from the days exertions and wish we could go collapse in our room but due to the horrendous traffic, there is no time to do anything but hurry into the shower before the next activity which is a Peking duck dinner.
Most of the Jimmy group is going and we take the bus down embassy row and through really upscale shopping districts to the restaurant. While some of the dishes are real losers, the Peking duck is great. We eat all of it (probably the only table to do so.). Towards the end of the meal it is suggested that we use the Happy Room and the woman sitting next to me comments that she is glad that there are more Western toilets here. I mention that I have been using the squat toilets. Well, this starts a big conversation about how one accomplishes this. It seems that two of the women had tried it but did not even face the correct direction. I said I looked it up on the Internet and then practiced at home. So I told them what to do. I am now the squat toilet celebrity. (I ran into one of the women the next day who proudly told me that my method works!)
So with my place in history secure, we board the bus back to the hotel.