Beijing was amazing. It reminded me of our old house, put together like a patch-work quilt. There were very old parts which were managing to hang on right next to very new parts and, just like my house, there was dirt that had been there so long that it would never be clean. :) There were structures that made sense 100s of years ago but didn't today. There was beauty and "real" right next to synthetic and trendy. Somehow, it managed to be very old while still being very new. The crowds were... a mass of humanity like I'd never seen before. There were people everywhere. The traffic was unbelievable. Pedestrians (and cars traveling straight) do NOT have the right of way while turning cars do. Mopeds, bicycles, buses, cars, pedestrians (seriously, they just walked into traffic) all crammed together and moving incredibly close-wow! (We'd find out later that the mopeds were all unlicensed.) It was a hodgepodge of chaos that somehow worked. Most of the time. At first, I just shut my eyes. Nancy, our guide, said that it’s a custom that if you climb one step of the Great Wall then you can consider yourself a hero. I think that if a person crosses the street successfully in Beijing, that should make them a hero. I want a t-shirt - “I Crossed the Street in China By Myself!” (Not unlike the t-shirt that I want for when the boys are themselves in public, that says, "This IS them 'disciplined.' " :) )
Speaking of the Great Wall of China, today was the day!
Meet "Nancy" our guide.
Meet California Dude and California Chick who were fellow adoptive parents and were from, you guessed it, California. You should know those folks on their left.
So we were all at the Great Wall of China. If you click on that link, you'll find out all sorts of interesting things, like the fact that the Wall was built east to west along the northern borders of China beginning as early as the 7th century BC and that it runs 13,171 miles.
Here are some more photos of our experience on this part of the Wall:
See all those different colors going up the wall? Those are people. It's hard to explain this experience. It's packed and it's STEEP small stairs that have been worn smooth or grooved over the years of use. There is a handrail but it's made for shorter people :) so I had to sorta stoop to use it. Going back down seemed like it was going to be hell on my "balance issues" so I got to the first outpost (these were shelters for the guards and for the fires that they lit to communicate danger to the next outposts on the wall. I hate to say it, but think "Mulan" and you get the idea. :) ) and told K, "Go ahead, I'm stopping here at this little tourist trap built into the hill." I sat down for a bit and he went on to the top of the hill.
|On the way up to get to the "steep part." Check out that stonework.|
|"Lock a Wish" onto the Great Wall.|
|We were told that you could buy a lock in one of the souvenir shops at the base of |
the Wall but at that moment I honestly thought to myself,
I'm in China. Do I have a wish left that hasn't come true? :)
|I really think that this is a picture that K-Man took later on |
in his trek as the crowds have thinned out but you get the idea.
|"Home Sweet Home"|
|Inside of these things it was very basic and hardly room for |
more than two people to pass at a time.
|The view from inside.|
|My good-looking sweetie.|
|It winds through the mountain because it's built on the ridges of the mountain.|
|It winds through this mountain because down there, |
through the pass between the mountains,
is Beijing (formerly known as Peking,)
site of the Forbidden City, historical home of the Emperor.
|There were so many beautiful things to see.|
|K-Man finally made to the top, obviously not the end, |
but a good place to head back down
and found a guy in a cartoon costume, of course.
I have this feeling of Disney World. :)
By now, we were hungry...