Near Heart Attack on The Wall
So I was up bright and early, talked to Canada, then waited for our ride to The Great Wall at Baidan. We were booked into a group trip, just us from our hostel, but there were already 3 other people in the car and we picked up 6 more from another one.
What a beautiful day for it, the sky was as clear as I have ever seen it in China (4 whole days of experience) the wind was brisk, the temperature cool, and the wall, torturously unbelievably almost impossibly hard to climb. Seriously, the wall you see with politicians and pop stars on it, is beautiful, smooth, clean and mostly flat. Where we were was straight up and down the sides of these mountains, and 3/4 of it was covered in broken tiles at best, and chunks of rubble and dead grass at worst. That said, what a rush! It was gorgeous, scenic, and peaceful. Once i realized I wasn't going to die of a heart attack (it took me almost 2 guard stations before my heart and lungs caught up with the rest of me,) I had such a lovely day. What an achievement that wall is, even the bits that were totally decrepit were still completely impressive. We had one more hill to climb when we cut out, the guide had told us to be back by 12.30, and the path was so steep and smashed up that we figured we didn't have time. Sadly (for my fragile male ego - I only made it by the heart attack stage by feeling like I had to beat the other older guys with us), 5 of the young-uns went flying by us and managed to go right to the end at the top of the next mountain. I guess them achieving that wasn't sad, but if I had known they were going to make us all 1.5 hours late leaving I would have gone on with them, I would like to have said i covered it all.
After they finally arrived back at the van we went for lunch in some weird deserted little village and they had two different kinds of Tofu and some delicious veggies. Lots of meat too, and one dish that was just tons of huge chunks of onion and some kind of smokey pork, once the pork was picked off the onions were nice. Some of the older Italian folks with us DID NOT enjoy the food, but everyone else did. One of the Italian girls who is living here tried to explain it by telling me that "once you have grown up on Italian food it is so hard to enjoy any other kind of cooking, you are spoiled" I noticed it wasn't stopping her dad, I think they were just old and crabby.
Once we got back to Beijing we drank coffee and then went and bought Morag's friend a nice Chinese cooking knife and listened to hundreds of thousands of more Fire Works. I am not exaggerating, hundreds of thousands.
Today it is Mao, Forbidden City and plenty of parks and temples, then a 12 hour overnight train ride.