Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Another incredible day

When you actually see something that you have learned about, read about, and seen in so many medias all your life, and it is even more grand than you imagined, you wish you could find a way to capture it so others can have a more accurate impression of it.

That is how I feel after seeing the Great Wall of China. 

To describe it as great is like calling the Grand Canyon, grand. Maybe because we overuse these descriptors for much more menial items our perception of what truly is great and what is grand are deflated.

We had another incredible day on Tuesday. Up early (since we our bodies are still confused on the time) and down for the breakfast buffet. The girls are loving having a nice warm filling bowl of congee, which is similar to our oatmeal, only with rice, along with dumplings, buns, and plenty of fruit, like lychees and watermelon. I love getting to have a croissant and a very strong cup of coffee. On our other trips, I was pretty sure that pot of coffee they started the first day was the same pot they served our last, as I had never had such strong, thick coffee.

On our way to the Great Wall, we stopped at a jade factory. I've seen jade all my life and admired it but never knew much about it until hearing their educational program. It's impossible not to buy something after learning about it.

Then onward and upward to the Great Wall.

Our guide chose a section that would be less crowded but a considerable distance from our hotel. It took about 2 hours to get there by bus, a trip I was very glad I was not driving, and we made it to the Mutianyu section, an area that is restricted from the Chinese tour buses to allow foreign visitors easier access.

After steadily climbing into the mountains, we finally reached the entrance, only to be faced with a straight uphill climb that felt like it was a million miles. It was a quick wake up call to how much more conditioning I wish I had done before we left!

From there we took a cable car straight up, which still put us at the bottom of more flights of stairs and a steady climb to finally reach the wall. All along the way are vendors selling fruit, vegetables, tshirts, and other souvenirs. After considering seriously several times that I had reached my limit, I was really glad that I had persevered and made it to the top. Once you are there, you are still going up and down stairs. Someone in our group suggested it be called the Great Stairway of China.

After that we had lunch, which my girls loved, and the last stop of the day was an acrobatic show, where tricks were performed that left you breathless.

We are on our way to visit the Temple of Heaven, then to catch a bullet train to Xi'an.

More later!

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