Monday, September 15, 2008

The Great Wall Adventure!

We have been going, going, going here in Beijing! It's hard to find the time to blog, so this will be quick...

Yesterday, we went to the Great Wall! There are different sections close to Beijing, and we chose the Mutianyu section... it's just 15 minutes further out than the overcrowded Badaling section. We had hired the same driver we had the day before...he picked us up at the hotel, drove us out to the Paralympic Village to pick up Ron, and then out of town to the wall. It was amazing!! At the base of the mountain, there are stalls of souvenir and fruit vendors, where they sell "I Climbed the Great Wall" T-shirts for $1 (or less!)... it's crazy and crowded down there, but when you get up to the wall itself (by hike, chairlift, or cable car, the route we took!) it is nearly deserted! Well, not really, but far less crowded than I thought it would be. Anyway, we hiked left, we hiked right, and took lots of pictures!!

The views were breathtaking, even though the day was a bit overcast and smoggy. It was no walk in the park either... you are either going down steps or up them....everything seems very steep. It just blows my mind how they built the wall in the first place!! Butch descended the wall via the cable car, but Ron, mom, and I wanted to go down faster...on the toboggan slide!! We had to hike about an hour (up and down, up and down, very very sweaty by the end!), but we finally got there, and it was totally worth it to slide down the side of the mountain! Ron took a little video of it...check out his site to see.
We had some tourist stops on the way to and back from the Wall, but they were fun and we didn't mind. First was the Cloisionne factory where the artisans make their beautiful pieces by hand (we bought a dragon and phoenix vase!), and then was a tea shop, where we were taken through a tea ceremony. Fun!

When we finally made it back from the wall, it was time for dinner. Did I mention that the Chinese eat really early?? In Italy, we were used to eating dinner no earlier than 9:00 PM, but in China, they eat at about 6:00. A few nights, we ate at 7:30, and we close it down! Anyway, last night we had Peking duck again to let Ron experience it...he loved it of course!

After dinner, it was a mad rush (via subway) to the theater to see the Chinese acrobat show! Mom and I had secured 13 tickets for us, Ron, and his teammates/coaches/staff to get out and see the show...they all met us there. The show was great, and everyone had fun! It wasn't really tumbling like I had envisioned, but more like contortionists, girls doing balancing stuff, jugglers, and stuff like that. The grand finale was a troupe of young ladies doing tricks on bicycles.... doing handstands on moving bicycles, riding backwards and upside down, and a whole bunch of other fun stuff, including having 13 girls on one bike! I told the guys and girls I had arranged it just for them!

After the show, we all took the subways home to crash... it was an exciting and tiring day! That's enough for now... I'll do today's update in the morning.... promise!