The Great Wall
It was a rather difficult hike up and down all of those steps!
Well, I've made it almost a week and I haven't caught any infectious diseases this time here in China! It took me a full 24 hours to get to Beijing and when I got to the airport (largest terminal in the world- pretty awesome) I found my way to the taxi line and gave the driver the address to the hotel. We got out on a tollway and about 1/4 of a mile past the toll booth, the driver started talking loudly in Chinese--I don't know if he was speaking to me or not
-- but then he pulled over to the shoulder and started getting really crazy shouting in loud jibberish and the next thing I know, we're backing up on this freeway down the shoulder as the other cars are wizzing past us. I never could figure out what the problem was because he didn't appear to be lost nor was there any visible signs of a lane closure.. Anyway, he spoke to me for a good while after that and I just made grunting noises from time to time and we finally made it to the hotel.
The next morning (6pm @ home) we got up and
Wangfujing Street near our hotel
drove about 1 1/2 hours to the Great Wall. We had to take a gondola up to got started exploring the nearby stretch of the 4,000 mile wall. There was one point with a 450 step acsent which was a killer. We spent about 2 1/2 - 3 hours or so enjoying our time although there was a lot of fog due to rain in the area. To get down, we took a tobogan down this huge slide which was a lot of fun. It was kinda crazy, too. I had my tobogan really gettin after it.
Later we also visited the Imperial Palace and Tiananmen Square (largest plaza in the world). There were hords of people. It was still pretty impressive, though. I've really enjoyed learning about the ways of life here, the government, and just the way they do things. It's been a great experience so far.
Went by the local market to sample fish eyes, scorpians, and goat testicals. I opted out for all of those activities.
We also got to see a really neat Kung Fu show which lasted about 1 1/2 hours.
That night we took a sleeper train 12 hours
to the city of Xi'an. It was actually a fairly nice ride, or should I say, COULD have been a nice ride..... but somehow Liz (my roommate from NYC) and I were in the bunk beds directly next to the restroom (a squater) so not only did we have to enjoy the bathroom quarters, but Chinese men seem to have no problem hawking and spitting. One man was in there for about 15 minutes going on and on. Even worse, the cigarrette smoke got so bad I had to get under my blanket just to breathe. After a while, I started loudly asking who the "offender" was...but no one owned up and Liz refused to check. If I could only speak Chinese..
In Xi'an we visited the impressive Terracota Warriors and rode bikes around the 14km old city wall. We finally had a chance to rest up before taking another train here to Luoyang and tomorrow we'll head to the Shaolin Temple to learn Kung Fu! This is the only part of the trip that has been adjusted due to the earthquake.
We're in a great hotel tonight. Time for a good night's rest.
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