(Ed. note: First of all, in the last post I missed this photo which Lynne and Martin had commented on “
Tomorrow, on to the Great Wall. How many bricks do you think there are in a wall 5,600 kilometers long, sixty feet high and sixteen feet wide? And for thelife of me I can’t see why they built it IN the mountains…….”
Secondly, for those of you who wish to learn something, this blog DOES have a title – The Jiaxing Express – and it is the Posts which Martin has neglected to give names to, until today.
Thirdly, I am schizophrenic since I have been given free rein by Martin by make all the Ed. notes I wish, but scolded by the women for doing so. What’s a man to do? Read on and find out.
Fourthly, over to Lynne and Martin.)
Welcome to Martin and Lynne’s last guest posting from their Grand Tour Of China (Ed. note: Sadly, this time it is true). When last we left you, we were heading for the Great Wall. We chose to go to the Mutianyu location, based on Ron and Terry’s recommendation and the fact it has a metal sled run to get you down from the mountain side. You go up on a skiing style chair lift:
And come down on a plastic sled with a brake – used obsessively by the guy in front of us so we were reduced to about two miles an hour. No, he wasn’t Chinese – American.
So, we remarked in the last post that for the life of us we couldn’t see why they built it in the mountains. In this photo, you see it snaking off o’er hill and dale, and mountain, into the distance. Look closely at the far mountain top and you can see four Chinese characters laid out in stones. You can also see that the Wall continues past that. Indeed, there is another mountain in the far, far distance (left of the nearer one) – you can just see the Wall crossing that one.
Here’s a close up of that far mountain top with the Wall crossing it:
So that shows the terrain it crosses; here’s a photo showing how steep it is. Not only that, each step seems to be a different height and a different width. It was hard enough for us to walk up some sections on an April morning. Imagine what jogging up in a suit of armour on an August afternoon would have been like!
Before any one comments, no, those handrails are not original. This section had been reconstructed, so at the end, there was an un-reconstructed section. It looked like this:
So you can see they have done a lot of work on it over the years. You can also see that most of the inside is rubble, with brick facing on the outside and for the battlements. It was near this section that we came across a typical Chinese sign, which kind of answered our question about whether or not it’s closed in winter.
One more shot, showing the section we were on, with the top most “castle” being the end of the reconstruction – again, very steep.
And so, back to Beijing. The next day we visited the Buddhist Temple, home to the Panchen Lama (Dalai’s second in command). There are actually two Panchen Lamas – the one officially sanctioned by the government and the original one who hasn’t been seen since 1985. Here’s the main temple.
On the last day, we visited the Temple Of Heaven, before heading to the airport to fly home. This was basically a private compound and garden where the Emperor offered sacrifices for good harvests, and had his wily way with the concubines. Supposedly the largest circular wooden building in the world. Again, looted by the British during the Boxer rebellion, and then used as their headquarters. As far as we could tell, it lay in ruins until the Olympics. Now it looks like this:
And so we left China – a land we never thought we would visit. But hey, for $875 each Vancouver to Shanghai to Xi’an to Beijing to Shanghai to Vancouver, why wouldn’t you? It was definitely an experience we would recommend to others. The culture, the people, the history, the sights, the cuisine – all made for an extremely interesting and busy holiday – definitely not for those who like to lie on a beach. We hope we have given you a flavour of the trip, and China, with these few comments and photos (we took over 500 of them!).
We would like to thank Geoff and Terry for inviting us, for being such gracious hosts, such good companions, and for showing us the sights of Shanghai and Jiaxing. It was a most thoroughly enjoyable holiday with good friends!
(Ed. note: Ah gee… It was our pleasure to have the two of you come and enjoy our Asian home. Thank you for coming and for offering to blog. It is fun to read of someone else’s experiences. Anybody else want to join us next year?)
The Shoe Blog
This is an excellent example of what Chinese women wear on their legs with the heels they so enjoy. This woman sat down next to me at the train station last week. BEFORE she sat down, the dark band at top of her nylons were showing. I made sure I looked anywhere but directly to my right since I have no idea how high that skirt would have ridden up when she crossed her leg. However, the woman across from me could not stop looking at my neighbour, so it must have been quite the sight.