Our morning started out with a visit to a government-run jade factory. Who knew that there are 1,200 types of jade? Not us! They gave us lots of interesting information and then had us all try on jade bracelets so that we would plunk down a few hundred bucks for one. We resisted, though Val did buy a cheap one on sale for kicks.
After the jade factory, we got down to the real business of the day, THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA! It took about an hour to drive up there, but the scenery was beautiful. Our tour guides took us to Badaling, which is the most visited section of the Wall. They told us that the less crowded route would be a steeper climb, but we opted for it nonetheless and are soooooo glad we did. We actually hiked to the end of the Great Wall, believe it or not (or at least as far as they let you go). We bought cute T-shirts that say, “I climbed the Great Wall of China” when we got to the end for a whopping $3 and then turned around and headed back. It was as awesome of an experience as we had hoped it would be and we were glad that it wasn’t all stairs, but a decent amount of graded surfaces as well. It truly was amazing how long and serpentine the Wall was as it snaked over the mountains. We had an “American style buffet” lunch, also known as Chinese food, and then hopped back in the bus.
Back in Beijing, we visited the Temple of Heaven, which is where the emperors used to make their sacrifices to heaven for good harvests. They were such beautiful buildings, but man was it hot! Not to mention that we were dodging umbrellas left and right and almost lost an eye a time or two. Then, believe it or not, we opted to attend “The Legend of Kung Fu” show, which was pretty amazing. The sets, music, and Kung Fu choreography were like a Broadway musical, Chinese-style. We were at a special showing that was done in English for all the tourist-types in town, which was super. Dinner, again, was family-style, with a huge lazy Susan and all kinds of dishes. During dinner, we were treated to a Manchu song and dance.
Needless to say, we are worn out from hiking the Great Wall, but are so excited to have finally seen the 7th Wonder of the World for ourselves. Despite being hot and sweaty and ready to pass out, we did visit the hotel gardens before returning to our room to satiate Jessica’s curiosity. (This happens to be an indoor garden, complete with caged birds on the 8th floor of the hotel. Interesting.)
That’s it for now, tomorrow we see a couple more sights in Beijing and then fly off to Xi’an to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors.