Published: October 19th 2009October 19th 2009
Today was a big day for everyone. All of the fellows began their research segments. It sounds as if everyone made it to their respective research sites without too many problems. The teachers and I met Yuehua at the hotel and we traveled to the Great Wall. Getting there was half the adventure! After walking around to four different locations looking for taxis, we headed to the nearest bus stop. Then we went to the transfer station to catch the bus dedicated to the Great Wall run. That bus stop happened to be the gate of Beijing.
We stood around for several minutes in the wrong line then some Asian tourists that had been talking to Yuehua found the proper line and brought us over. The bus took about an hour to reach the Badaling section of the Great Wall. When we entered the off ramp from the highway, we joined a long line of tour busses waiting to reach the starting point. After close to an hour of stopping and slowly moving, we finally got off the bus and walked several hundred meters to the first rest area/shops/restaurants. We had a quick lunch of handmade noodles then walked an
additional several hundred meters to the entrance.
The Great Wall is amazing, even with the hundreds of tourists everywhere. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the workers who constructed it. It wraps and loops around so that it goes in every direction I looked. Plus the terrain is incredibly hilly. We headed in the direction with most of the people so that we could see the declaration of Chairman Mao inscribed in one of the rocks. We managed to walk/climb to the third tower, which was close to a mile away. Several sections of the wall have at least a 30 degree incline and one of them was close to if not greater than 45 degrees. I noticed that the side of the wall only reached my knees as we were climbing the steepest part. Some of those stairs were at least 14-16” tall. Plus it was incredibly windy. Given all of those conditions, I was afraid of falling off the side.
While I was walking along I heard someone speaking English with an American accent so I went back to check it out. It turns out that they were two women from Maryland
and one of them used to be a Dean of Students at Iowa State. (Of course I told them about Karla and Steve.) Anyway, both women were originally from Indiana (Indianapolis and Richmond.) They are both retired now and spend much of their time traveling. We talked a bit about the GK-12 program and the past week working with JIE. It was a fun little chance meeting!
When we first starting walking along the road towards the entrance, we saw a huge sign for the 2008 Olympics on the hillside located up near the wall. When we reached the third tower, we were quite a bit higher than the sign. We decided to leave at this point so we walked down the exit path adjacent to the wall. This path follows right under the sign.
There are two ways to return to Beijing: bus or train. The train only stops every two hours and we had just missed one. We decided to go back by bus, which is really cheap (12 yuan = ~$2). The entrance fee was 45 yuan, roughly $7.
It was 4:00 when we returned to the hotel so we had a brief rest
The guy to the far left is making noodles by hand. He pulls the dough, twists it, cut its, then repeats.
Customers make their selections from the choices on the counter. The workers in white to the left then cook the food on little stovetops.
before dinner. I managed to blow a fuse while trying to charge my laptop. After dinner, I blew another fuse when I plugged in the converter to charge my camera batteries. Needless to say, I’m finished with my converter for this trip. I’ll have to rely on disposable batteries and another hotel room for laptop charging.
Next up tomorrow: Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and more shopping.
There are more photos below