Greetings! I am glad that you could join me in my travels to China! Follow me daily to see what adventures I and my fellow administrators from Pennsylvania are encountering as we travel through the countryside and cities of China.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tuesday, April 12th - Climbing the Great Wall

A Perspective of the Steepness
Well, it is official. I am now what our tour guide called "a Chinese hero." I climbed the Great Wall, something most people only dream about. The Wall was built by the Q'in Dynasty to protect against warring countries like Mongolia in the north, but the majority of the Wall was built by the Ming Dynasty. We visited a portion of the Wall that is only an hour or so from Beijing. When we arrived, we took a cable car to tower 14, then some of us climbed to the tower at the top - number 23. The view was spectacular! Pictures won't begin to do it justice!  It was exhausting, but well worth the trip to the top.

Another view of the Wall
After yet another wonderful lunch, we traveled by bus to the Olympic Village. The site of the 2008 Summer Olympics, this complex is massive! We only had enough time to see one side of the complex, and took pictures of the Birdsnest (where the opening and closing ceremonies took place), and the Cube, the site of the swimming events. The shapes of both of these structures, square and round, was purposeful - both contribute to the feng shui of the country. We were informed that the architect of the Birdsnest is now imprisoned for his anti-government beliefs and his candid speech regarding them.
The Birdsnest - site of the 2008 Olympic Games

Another site visited this day was the Hutong. A Hutong is an area where the everyday people reside. Lined with narrow streets, the residences there consist of 4 buildings; the north building is where the older generation live because it is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. The south building houses the living room and kitchen. The east building is where the sons live, and the west is where the daughters live. All of the buildings surround a courtyard. In most cases there are no bathroom facilities, the people use the local public toilet and bath (described by Merry, our tour guide, as a 0 star toilet - believe me, you don't even want to use a 1, 2, or 3 star one). We visited one house in which the owner described her life as a child, and how at one time more than 50 people lived in this small compound. Amazing! She even told us that during the 2008 Olympics, she was visited by Michael Phelps, who sat in the very spot on her couch as did our very own Dr. Markley from Oley Valley. By the way, travel through this area was really tricky- we got in and out of the Hutong by rickshaw.
Connie Skipper and I ride the rickshaw through the Hutong

After another good dinner (this time the restaurant was known for its beef noodles), we returned to the hotel. Several of us, feeling adventurous, decided to take a cab to the world famous Silk Market. We asked our Hebei Provincial guides Sophie and Mayuan, to accompany us. Of course our taxi driver got lost, but we managed to get there before it closed (and refused to pay the higher fare). We bargained and bargained for pearls, and I think we were quite successful, since we all came out with something to take home. Heading back to our hotel, however, we could not find a single trustworthy cab (private ones are dangerous and need to be avoided), so we braved the Beijing subway system, then walked the rest of the way back to our Hotel. This was, by far, the longest day, and I fell into bed and was fast asleep.

No comments:

Post a Comment