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Thursday, October 27, 2005
Beijing - Day 2


It is now the end of our first full day in China (well it is really only 6:45 but that is close enough!). What a busy day! We were picked up by GrayLine tours at 8:00 this morning and just now got back. It was a very international tour, there were nine people, a guy from Ireland, a couple from Russia, a couple from Poland, a couple from Sydney and us. We went first to the Ming tombs, where 13 Ming dynasty emperors are buried. They were quite impressive.The jet lag has been interesting. We both fell asleep around 6:00 last night and I woke up at about 10:00. I drugged myself to sleep and was back up around 2:00. I took another Ambien and slept till about 5:00. Arghhh!!! Mike was also up at about 2:00 and then again at 5:00 but refuses to admit it is Jet Lag. I don't know what he thinks it is but will allow him to continue thinking he is too perfect for jet lag. :-) Hopefully we will make it a full night tonight. After the Ming tombs we went to the Jade factory to see how they make Jade products. They had a ship there carved out of only 3 pieces of Jade that is about 12 feet tall and 20 feet long. Some of the Jade items were beautiful and I have to admit we did buy ourselves a small Buddha.Then onto lunch at the Friendship store. (I don't remember exactly how this goes, but for a long time only foreigners were allowed to shop at the Friendship store, it may have been the only place they were allowed to shop at, I'm not sure about that, but now it is open to everyone.) I love the way Chinese eat. I really think we need to start putting a lazy susan in the middle of the table, make about 15 different dishes and let everyone have a little of everything. They had glass noodles, beef and snow peas, pea pods with pork, fried rice, a fried chicken dish, some type of greens, beef soup, and about five different other items. For our choice of drink we were offered Coke, juice, water or BEER. Beer is considered in the same category as soda! And there was Saki at the table included in the cost of the meal. So much for the Chinese not being drinkers!

Next was the major reason we went on the tour, the Great Wall. We went to the Badaling section of the Great Wall. I hate to admit it, but I was not able to make it to the top. I gave it the old college try though. The wall is VERY steep and the steps were definitely built before there was any type of building standardization. There would be one step about 2" up and then the next one would be more like 2 feet! All going up at about a 80 degree angle! I wasn't doing too badly going up but I could just guess what it was going to do to my knees going back down. I basically decided that the view was so impressive that there was no way it could be any better at the top. And the view is impressive. I really wish I had had a panoramic camera on me. It is amazing to think that the wall was started around 200 BC. How they built on the side of those mountains astounds me. I promise to get pictures as soon as I get around an internet connection strong enough to let me do it.

A bit of a shock to both of us was how many vendors there were on the Great Wall. Every 15 feet or so someone was tying to sell us something. I was tempted to by a Rolex just to say that I bought a Rolex on the great wall but restrained myself. It is weird though, can you see the US having vendors along the Appalachian trail? Or on the steps Monticello?

Oh! And I used my first squatty potty today. (Sorry if I'm sharing too much, but this is major news) Luckily I was prepared for it after talking to folks who have been here. And after all the hiking and camping (not to mention keg parties in my wild youth) I am pretty good at peeing on the ground. And I had even brought toilet paper with me in preparation. What I wasn't prepared for was the smell. Epee!!!