Published: November 4th 2007October 9th 2007
Our Tour Guide Kevin
Kevin briefing us on the significance of the types and order of the statues along the Sacred way.
I woke up a little early this morning. Around 6am, I went down to the steam room in the hotel. I also had a nice breakfast at the hotel.
Ming Tombs/Sacred Way
Then, we headed out to the Ming Tombs. It was a little bit of a drive outside of the city. This area is where the emperors of the Ming Dynasty era are buried. Leading up to the tombs is a path known as the "Sacred Way". It is lined with statues of animals and people. There is a particular significance to the order of the statues. This was constructed in the 1400's. We walked down the Sacred Way. It was very peaceful. It was quiet since there weren't many people there except for our group. Music was being played from speakers along the path. I thought it was real nice.
We then hopped on the bus for a short drive to the Chang Ling tomb. On the grounds of the Chang Ling tomb are several buildings. One building, known as the Hall of Eminent Favour, houses a bronze statue of the Yongle Emperor, who constructed the Forbidden City and the Ming Tombs/Sacred Way. Behind this is a
courtyard and a building called a Soul Tower. Behind the Soul Tower is where the underground tomb is.
Everywhere we went, people would come up to us and try to sell us something. Sometimes, they had booths set up, and sometimes they were just walking around. They were trying to sell everything from hats to t-shirts to post cards, watches, etc. Jade Factory
We then stopped by a Jade factory, where they make all kinds of jewelry and other items out of jade. We got a demo and were then let loose in the shop for an hour. It was becoming apparent that parts of this trip were designed to be sales pitches and opportunities to get us to buy stuff/spend money. Oh, well. This wasn't exactly my cup of tea. I grabbed a seat and a can of Coke and waited it out. We then had lunch at a nice place.
The Great Wall!
After lunch, we then went to a section of the Great Wall. One of the things you may think about, when you think about China, is the Great Wall. This was one of the things I was particularly looking forward to
The Sacred Way
Looking down from the gateway.
on the trip agenda. This was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. It's a world landmark, and quite spectacular when you're there. This section of the wall was a steep rise up a mountain. The walkway consisted of stairs most of the way, and steep ones at that. I couldn't believe how steep and large these stairs were. Needless to say, it quickly became apparent that walking up this thing was going to be quite a workout. Unfortunately, it was right after lunch, and it would have been preferable to have done this without the full stomach. Anyway, I started chugging. I soon had to take off my jacket and tie it around my waist. I soon started sweating profusely and breathing heavily. I had a long way to go to make it to the highest watchtower. I vowed to make it to the top. Yes, I had to pause a couple of times briefly to rest, but I kept going. Along the way, I got to talking to this Chinese man, Kobi, a tourist from another part of China, Guang Dong I think. He was real nice, could speak good English, and turned out to be a
The Sacred Way
Looking back towards the gateway.
companion on the way up and then back down. Sweat was pouring down my face, but I was getting into it. After all, this is the Great Wall. I'm in China. The view is incredible, and I'm having a great time. Kobi and I got to the top watchtower, and took in the view. I caught my breath, and took some pictures. I was feeling good. We started heading back down. Going down wasn't quite as easy as you might think. Yes, easier than going up, but still a little hard on the knees. It was like you were falling down the stairs, it was so steep. You had to be careful not to stumble. I took some video and pics. We got down and shook hands goodbye. I felt fantastic. The combination of the incredible workout, the view, the fact that I was actually at the Great Wall, having a good time, etc was a natural high.
There are more photos below