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Old 07-28-2009, 05:18 PM   #15
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 236

Great Wall Glory

It is 4:30 in the morning again. Today we do the Peti-cabs and fly to Chengdu.

Yesterday was up for breakfast in the Hotel again. They change some of the breakfast foods up every morning, some they keep the same. I love the tea and the assortment of juices and the fact that even my picky one can find something to eat.

8 am off again, this time for a 2 hour bus ride to the great wall.

The bus ride was great. There are signs with cute (humorous) pictures telling people to buckle up, don't drive drunk, obey the height restrictions and obey the weight restrictions. Traffic clears out once you are out of the city and it is a lot like driving between locations on the interstate in the US. Biggest difference there is the fact that you don't have people honking every time someone changes lanes or is going too slowly. Even when there is little traffic and changing lanes is simple, they seem obliged to beep the horn whenever they find a reason to. It amazes me that they don't get annoyed with other people beeping at them when they don't have any control over the reason that beeping is happening.

Got to see road side fruit markets and people in was less 'touristy' places just going about their lives. The biggest contrast that has been striking me is the brand new cars (many people seem to really like black cars) and the very old, well worn bicycles that share the road. I guess I always through that, when I saw pictures of China with people on bikes that looked like they were from the 50s that they were taken much closer to the 50s. They may not be. The bikes really are like that in the vast majority of cases and none seem to be the kind of bikes that we think of as 'for pleasure' even when they purpose of the rider seems to be for pleasure... they are always the one speed old Schwinn looking bikes that I remember from when I was a kid.

Great wall was awesome. The vendors WERE in your face but in a much nicer way. Learned later that only people who live in the town where the wall entrance is are allowed to be vendors there. That explains why you can actually get up the mountain. I was less than enthused about riding up in the cable car (I really really don't do cable cars well... I used to HATE the one at WDW with a passion) but being enclosed, I think, helped (except it was stuffy and humid and my glasses kept fogging up) and I have some great pictures that I will post as soon as I actually get time.

Oh, a bit about pictures. They are REALLY great about taking pictures and the one thing about picture time is always... Wait Wait, just one more... so they have one with their cameras.

DS was smiling ear to ear because he was actually standing on the great wall of China, and that had always been a dream of his. It was foggy, so you couldn't get the breathtaking views that you sometimes see in pictures, but the pictures had their own shrouded in mystery quality to the.

Walked to the top of two of the tower's roofs. It is hard to believe that this has been around for 1800 years and that people had to carry the bricks up the hill to build it. They really didn't like the Mongols.

Schoolhouse for lunch. So far, I would have to say this was my least favorite lunch but it was still good. Had a hard time with the cornbread 'bread' part of the chicken sandwich and ate it with a fork. The ice cream (caramel) was killer.

After lunch, got to see glass blowing (not like you see at Disney or at one of the 6 Flags parks... real glass blowing with a huge blow pipe and furnaces). They made a flower for us to see. Then, noodle making, and we all got a chance to try if we wanted to.

Back on the bus for the ride home. A last drive-by of the great wall entrance for a final picture (the fog burned off, so you could see it from the bus) and back to Beijing and more looking at small town China. The bus driver took us kind of over the river and through the woods on the way back so got to see small town life in process. Everywhere there are parks, most of them with exercise equipment and all of the exercise equipment is painted yellow and blue. Corn (at least here around Beijing) is a big crop by the looks of it, and it is just about the 'right' height for corn if it were being grown in Pennsylvania this time of year. Some of it is in tassel, some hasn't gotten that far yet.

2 highlights of the bus ride back to the hotel for us were
1... seeing a truck load of donkeys on their way somewhere on the interstate
2... a drive-by of olympic stadium and the water cube.

Back to the hotel... found a place to eat that didn't speak any english and that thought we were a riot trying to eat noodles with chop-sticks. I have really learned to like sticky rice a lot...

Then down to the Night Market. I tried bubble tea (interesting flavor) and sugar coated (like... hard candy... dipped) cherry tomatoes on a stick. Dipping them in the hot melted sugar has the effect of starting to cook the tomatoes and the taste (if not the consistency) reminded me a lot of eating stewed tomatoes when I as a kid. DS had fried silk worm (DD and I tried one of these... weird sensation and kind of... stale bread kind of taste), centipede, scorpion and meal worms and (I think) crayfish (these he said were spicy and I was less up for the spicy than adventurous enough to eat them(. Meal worms have nothing to them, taste kind of like grass after it has gone to hay.

Walked around a pedestrian street shopping thing, will probably have to ask Huan where it was this morning so I know where we were. Very reasonably priced jewelry (if you could fight your way through the crowd. Not sure the quality, but it looked sterling and was labeled on the tag jadeite and agate.

Back to the hotel to crash and burn (after putting the finishing touches on packing... ) and now, nearly time for breakfast.
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