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Sunday, August 4, 2002, CST

Day 11, We scale the wall


Our day started at 8am, as we headed to the Ming tombs. The weather is a little cooler than yesterday, as it continues to improve little by little. Not much to say about the tombs, except we did not choose to see any actual tombs, but just inspected the grounds. The highlight of this site was the star rated bathrooms! In 85, the locals thought we were crazy to be making such a big deal about the bathrooms, and now we are marveling at the renaissance. Lunch was at our first Friendship store, of this trip, and it was a very good meal. Michael bought a cool crystal, painted from the inside out. After lunch, it was off to the wall.


The drive up to the wall is on a new mountain hiway, built in 1996. The scenery is beautiful, and reminiscent of many mountain roads back in the states. We motored past the Badaling gate, and on to the Mutianyu entrance. The weather was pleasant, with a little loss of temperature, as we ascended 1200 feet, and there was a nice breeze. We paid RMB$60 for the Gondola ride up the mountain, on what appeared to be a Chinese manufactured tram. It was a short line, and a quick ride to the top. When we got to the top, it was a short walk through a nice and cool tunnel, before hitting the masses of people, trying to cram themselves into a limited space, and an even more limiting doorway in the wall. The doorway was only about 4 or 5 feet across, and people were going through here 3 and 4 abreast.


Once on the wall, it was a steep climb with the hoards, to the high point of the wall. A few pictures on the way, past the concessions at the top, and the crowds thin out. 90% of the people only go the first 500 meters, and for those that go beyond, you earn a nice uncrowded wall, if you pay the price with more steep climbs. The wall is 4,500 miles long, and we are crammed into 500 meters of it. Everyone enjoyed this highlight, and our 2nd wonder of the world, for this trip. Most of our group was sound asleep on the ride back into Beijing.


After a short break, we were on our own for dinner, and Grandpa had some friends who graciously invited us out for a Yuan Dynasty (Mongolian) dinner of lamb and dumplings. Yesterday, I said we were going shopping today, but I had my days mixed up. Tomorrow we check out of the hotel, and spend our last day in Beijing at the Temple of heaven, and then shopping. We will have an evening flight to Guangzhou.


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