Beijing - Day 2
04.08.2014 28 °C
We headed out early this morning for out trek to the Great Wall. Now in a city of 20 million you have to get up early to miss the traffic! After a full and complete breakfast we headed north out of the city. The best news today is that it is cool and cloudy, meaning it is about 25 degrees! It almost feels like home as we drive toward one of the many parts of the Wall. We see it in the distance yet it still takes about 30 minutes for us to drive to the bus parking lot.
Looks like we weren't the earliest bus to arrive. There are probably 50 Chinese tourist busses here already and thousands of people already making their way up both sides of the Badaling portion of the Wall. While standing in line we have our pictures taken repeatedly by local Chinese tourist.
Most Chinese have not seen us "big noses" so we are almost as much of an attraction as the Wall. This site gets about 50,000 people per day climbing the wall in high season, Yes, 50,000 and us!
After the obligatory group photo we are off to climb the south section. It is busy, steep, uneven and unbelievably exciting to be on the Wall. Marty leaves me in his dust to clamber up to the highest watch tower. It is nice to see him sweating when he returns from the top of the mountain. I am sure climbing mountains every week has made it easier for him. I took a more leisurely trip as high as I felt comfortable. The sites are just the same only higher from the top.....that is what the rest of us tell each other!
You can't believe what some of the locals wear to climb the wall....check it out. Yes, those are acrylic heels and peek a boo toes!
Of all the wonders I have seen this ranks right up there with the Pyramids and Machu Pichu. I still wonder in awe of these ancient civilizations that did so much with so little.
Viking Cruise Lines provides education/shopping opportunity and today was no exception. Before lunch we heard all about jade and how it is carved, how to tell good from bad, etc. Our shopping was delayed until after we ate. Could it be that people spend more money when they have full stomachs? Must be!
Our next stop was for a serene walk through the Ming Tombs area where most of the Ming Emperors are buried. A quick rub of the nose and tail of the giant tortoise and we are off again.
We hit a huge traffic snarl due to an accident on the way back to the city. What should have took an hour took almost 2 1/2 hours. Van vs. bus in the accident. I don't think anyone faired well.
We drove by the Olympic site, saw the Bird's Nest, the Water Cube and the other sites for the Olympics. About 40,000 people pay 8.00 per person to enter the area each day in high season. Crazy!
Tonight's highlight was a Peking Duck Dinner. The duck was only one course in an evening of great food and more new friends.
Well, I must close as my eyes are weary, my feet too! Another full (and last day) tomorrow. Off to see the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the pandas and the Peking Opera.