Today the Great Wall Of China, let’s see if it’s stands up to being a wonder of the world!
But first some Chinese lessons;
Gambay = Bottoms up or Cheers
Shrr = Yes
Boo Shrr = No
Shroe = water
There is a big focus in reducing smog in Beijing, same as the other cities
There are 80,000 characters in the written Chinese Language but you can read and write with about 10,000 characters ( this is about standard for a normal person)
Peking Duck is a cooked duck
Beijing Duck is a lady boy, so be careful asking for a cooked duck, if you ask for a Beijing Duck you might get a surprise.
First thing we do is I manage to lock the safe and can’t open it, The Navigator steps into action, men in suits with screw drivers and secret keys follow her to the room, I’m too embarrassed and go to breakfast, she’s fixed the problem.
7am breakfast this morning, 8.30 am we leave the hotel, heading for first stop which is a government owned jade factory and sales setup ( I assume one of the requirements of the sponsorship of the travel company). As expected we get the pretty girl, beaming smile, very friendly who tells us all about jade, it’s hardness, the colours, we see some craftsmen working on it then we are directed to their sales team of young pretty girls. As expected we buy a few pieces for our travel cabinet, the Navigator is restrained until the almost the end. For my part, the cappuccino is better than yesterday at the pearl place.
On to the main attraction, the Great Wall. We see mountains, quite big mountains, also high bullet train bridges and then there it is The Great Wall, looks very impressive.
It’s hot, bloody hot, was supposed to max out at 34 but it feels a lot hotter. We come in at station 7, and the challenge is to get to station 12, should be easy, but the hill looks a bit steep. The Mechanic strides up the variable height steps easily, the Navigator and Me struggle and get to Station 8, sweat is running into my eyes , my shirt is soaked, the heat mixed with the physical exertion as well as fear of how I’ll get down convinces me to rest and return. The Seamstress and the The Nurse press on, the Sparky guards station 8 for a while. My walking stick is a god send, worth carting all the way here, it braces me as I crab down the steps. The Navigator takes the sensible option and takes the invalids option, a path and evenly spaced steps. The wall is a feat that is difficult to comprehend, the scale, the length of the wall, the steepness of the mountains in this part, the story is that there are thousands of workers buried in the wall. I reckon there were almost a few more bodies to add after today. Of the 36 in our group only 4 make it to station 12, an achievement of monumental proportions, I’m in awe of those that did it.
We come back to the jade place, they have lunch prepared, Chinese food, lots of it, delicious, with beer and soft drink.
We move back into the city via the Olympic Area, we see the Birds Nest stadium, the village and some of the other wares where the games were held. So,e of the group are interested and some aren’t, the 2022 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremony is being held at the Birds Nest. Beijing will be the only city to host both a Summer Olympics and a Winter Olympics.
We come to the old Beijing, the village area where people live traditionally in the court yard houses, no toilets or showers but lots of space, the places sell for 30m yuan ( about $6m AUD) and we are visiting a family for dinner later in the afternoon. This is the Hutong area, a nice lake, lots of shops and we have a short time shopping. I find a post office buy some post cards and try to sell the, it’s a post office so they are government employees I guess, I write the postcards, buy some stamps and 2 very nice young staff explain that a couple of them have to go in envelopes, they peel the stamps off get out the paste and sort me out. Very official and very helpful, my mail is on its way to Australia, I know I’ll beat it home but that’s not the point. The Navigator finds a craftsman working with bottles and of course she buys a bit of stuff.
We move around into the residential area, locals are playing mahjong, kicking a bamboo shuttlecock type thing very skilfully, playing cards, little kids are on rollers skates, it has a very communal feel about it. We head off of a rickshaw ride through the Hutong lanes and then to the Hutong families house where we meet the Cricket Man. What a hoot, he’s as eccentric as they come, he breeds and trains fighting crickets, has been mentioned in magazines and books, he has a couple of pet grasshoppers who find their way on to the Navigators hand and also onto the The Seamstress’s hand. The Navigator says that the Grasshopper bits here, must be good at reading human nature.
Then dinner, it’s another beautiful meal and a few of us wash it down with rice wine, a few of the including The Sparky go for the snake wine ( dead snake fermenting in a big jar of wine), I opt for a goji berry wine it’s very nice but not as good for me as the snake wine, apparently.
We’re finally back at the hotel at about 7pm, a long long day.
Sayonara from Beijing