Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sunday 11-18-12

Today we ventured to the Great Wall, to the Badaling section, or as we nicknamed it, the Bada Bing section (for you Sopranos fans.) But before actually getting to the wall we had to stop at a jade "museum" first. This was one of those government / touristy places where everyone gets a kickback if you buy something. Of course it wasn't much of a museum even though we had a "tour" of them carving jade stone and describing the various typres of jade. And then we were led into a gigantic store the with prohibitively expensive jade. Of course all the children wanted to buy stuff and Jemma was no exception. Luckily we left our wallets intact and a tearless Jemma (phew!) Driving through the mountains up to the Great Wall was beautiful and the air finally looked clear and clean. Even though it was a gorgeous sunny day in Beijing the air hung heavy with smog and particulates. As Vivian our guide informed us, we were lucky to be traveling in winter because the air in Beijing in the summer is filled with black dust that you can see. Oy vey. There was snow on the ground which gave the mountains even more depth and beauty. We drove past several sections of the Great Wall before getting to the Badaling section, so our excitement was growing. Vivian told me that some Chinese people like to spend the day at the Great Wall just to get their exercise. You could see why as it is a challenging climb and an awesome view. Hard to imagine those who were enslaved to build it and oftentimes died while doing so - their bodies buried deep in the wall. The children seemed to especially enjoy the challenge of the climb and Jemma managed to do many cartwheels on the way as well. One thing I've noticed in China is that the spitting seems to be more in check. Folks were spitting over the wall and I even saw a few people run to garbage pails to spit in them. On the way back from the wall we were taken to lunch at a commercial place where you eat lunch on the second floor and then go to the Cloissine "museum" and shop afterwards. Not a single Chinese person was eating lunch at the restaurant or shopping for Cloisinne. Is there no end to our forced government shopping?

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