Hope everyone is enjoying my blogs as much as I get from writing them. Where am I now, Would you believe in Jinshanling. More on that later.
We packed our bags and departed the hotel in Beijing at 7:45 AM. Andy said we had to go for a short visit to Tiananmen Square. He does not want anyone to say that they were in Beijing and did not visit Tiananmen Square. Tiananmen Square is enormous just like most things in Beijing. We entered from the south end. The south end is where Mao’s mausoleum is. There was a huge line waiting to pass by Mao. Mao is embalmed there in an open casket for all to see. We did not have enough time and the mausoleum is only open from 8 AM until noon. We walked around the Square passing the “Great Hall of the People”. This is where many diplomatic meetings take place and leaders meet. We walked down to the north end where you can see the famous portrait of Mao overlooking the Square. There are two military guards in front of the portrait. There were masses of people there. Everyone was taking pictures and mingling around. We finally departed and now I can say that I visited Tiananmen Square.
We all boarded the bus for the short trip to the “Temple of Heaven”. No trip is short in Beijing since there always is lots of traffic and people darting around and in between the traffic. The “Temple of Heaven” is an imperial sacrificial alter built during the Ming dynasty. This was where emperors would go to pray for good harvests and rain. The highlight is the “Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests”. This is a beautiful round roofed pavilion that was built without a single nail. This is where emperors would pray for a good harvest and make offerings of grain, silk and animals. There were also people playing a game where one person would toss rings to four other people and they would catch the rings over their heads and onto their necks. I want to mention something about the trees in these pavilions. The trees are so beautiful. Many of them have huge branches and bark. They are all tagged. A tree having a red tag is over five hundred years old and a tree tagged with a blue tag is at least three hundred years old. Many of the trees had red tags.
It was now time for lunch. We went into a restaurant that served you raw meat, shrimp and lamb together with vegetables. They put a huge pot of soup on a small heating grill and you make your own soup with the meat you choose and vegetables. A very popular way of eating in Beijing.
It was now time for us to leave Beijing and travel for three hours to Jinshanling. As we drove through Beijing I could not believe the amount of enormous buildings all over and new construction taking place. Beijing is very clean and full of beautiful flowers all over. Michael told me that there are not any slums since all the poorer people were forced to move out. No food markets. Lots of supermarkets, huge malls and skyscrapers. Why are we going to Jinshanling? Jinshanling is located near a portion of the Great Wall. Most tourists visit the Great Wall in Beijing. There are lots of people there and the steps are tourist friendly and easy to climb. Andy, Kevin and Michael decided to not show us the Great Wall in Beijing. Too many people and not authentic. As we drove, I fell into a deep and relaxing sleep. Woke up as we pulled into a rest stop. After making a quick pit stop, we were off again. After about another hour, Michael pointed out a portion of the Great Wall to us on top of a mountain. It was like seeing an Iceberg for the first time. We then got off the highway and pulled into a parking lot where we were met by three small vehicles and a truck to take us and our luggage to a small Guest House near the Great Wall. The Guest House is nice, clean and basic. in the bathroom is an odd shower. There is a hose with no shower stall nor tub. In the center of the bathroom is a drain and you take a shower in the middle of the bathroom. Have never seen this kind of method of taking a shower. It was then off to our one hour hike to the Great Wall. Some amazing facts about the Great Wall. The Great Wall is 12,380 miles long. That’s right, 12,380 miles long. Four lengths the width of the US and half the width of the Earth measured around the equator. The only invading army to ever break thru the Great Wall was Genghis Kahn and his Mongolian Army. We were each supplied with a Sherpa. The Sherpa would carry our camera gear and help us climb the Great Wall. My Sherpa was a woman. She was fantastic. Carried all my camera gear and helped me navigate very tricky and partially broken steps. We walked uphill and then climbed broken steps to the Great Wall. There was almost no one there. Chinese music was being played on large speakers as we hiked from one section to the next. I can tell you it was a very unique experience walking on top of a structure that was built over thousand years ago. The steps were not rebuilt for tourists and the scenery was so green and lush. My fingers could not stop taking pictures as I hiked and walked over this site. We finally made it to a Tower and spent sometime there waiting for a sunset that never came. It was cloudy and a little drizzly. It was then time to leave and hike back. My sherpa held my hand and helped me up and down the steep and uneven steps back to our Guest House. I could not have had this experience without my Sherpa.
Dinner was served in the Guest House. The food was the best meal we have had up to this time. All home made and fresh. Great dumplings, chicken, shrimp, beef and vegetables.
We are all getting up at 3 AM tomorrow to hike back up to the Great Wall and take pictures from a different location. My feet and muscles are very sore. I have decided to wake up and do it. How many times will I be here and be given this opportunity? Can’t pass it up for some sleep. It is now 10 PM and I need to get up in five hours. Hope I wake up and make it through the hike. I will have the same Sherpa tomorrow.
Talk to everyone tomorrow