Published: July 11th 2009July 4th 2009
HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!
We got up at 6:30, ate a tasty buffet breakfast in the hotel and boarded the tour bus at 8:00. Off to the Great Wall! From this point in the wall you can go right or left. Right is an easier incline, but left has a better view and there are fewer people. So we chose left. Oye.
It was extremely hot and humid. I'd like to say that's the only reason I had such a hard time. But alas, I must admit, I am WAY out of shape. (I don't even know where the gym is on Camp Hovey!) After what seemed like a few minutes I was panting, sweating, feeling dizzy and nauseous. But we made it to the step that says "1000" (don't know if that's 1000 steps, or feet, or kilometers- I personally think kilometers, because that's what it felt like, although that might not be reasonable). But the view was stunning and I took a few moments to sit and take in the idea that I was sitting on the Great Wall of China. I knew I'd never be back and I just wanted to enjoy the feeling. Getting back
down wasn't so bad and we stopped at a guard tower for some pics.
After a well deserved ice cream at the base of the Wall we boarded the (air-conditioned!) bus and headed for lunch at the "Friendship Store" which was just a large building with lots of Chinese arts, pottery and cheesy trinkets tourists should be ashamed to buy. But I DID buy some gorgeous paintings. (We try to buy at least one nice piece for our home in every city we go to- I'll take a picture of them and add it to this blog.)
Next stop was the Summer Palace, where the Dragon Lady lived out her eccentric days. We took a ferry boat across the river and docked in front of the amazing palace. We didn't go inside (there wasn't that much time, and it was probably much like the other palaces we have seen) but instead walked up and down the world's longest corridor, ate a popsicle that tasted like peach/pear/cotton candy and people-watched. Or, I should say, people watched us. We were often stared at, which I thought we had gotten used to in Korea, but this was a little more blatant.
Next, the Pearl Factory. Instead of listening to the demonstration and sales pitch, we sat at a small table and chatted with another couple who were there with their three children. He is prior-service Air Force and working as a government contractor. Dan and he spoke while I talked with his very nice wife.
After a spicy Suchuan meal we went to Wangfujing Street where you can buy snacks not offered in restaurants. Such as starfish, snake, scorpion, octopus, sheep testicles, bee cocoon, Eupolyphaga beetles, water beetles, centipede, Longhorn beetles... I had some fried dough. Boring, but safe.
There are more photos below