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Published: November 1st 2008
Our second day in Beijing went much more smoothly than yesterday. We left early for the Great Wall and stopped at a jade factory along the way. Very beautiful pieces and got to see workers carving the jade. I came away with a small piece of white jade, which is the color of jade found near Beijing, in the shape of a cabbage. In Feng Shui, the cabbage represents prosperity since the Chinese word for cabbage sounds like the word for money. I figured I could use all the help I can get given the times the way they are. Ernest got me a beautiful white jade bangle bracelet and I didn't even have to pick a huge fight with him to get it!
I have realized another one of my "before I die" goals and have climbed the Great Wall ! and I have the T-shirt and pictures to prove it ! It was a absolutely gorgeous day with very clear skies again. It wasn't very cool but it was extremely windy. We went to a lesser visited pass called Huanghua pass, most visitors go to the Badaling pass (which has the ride up and the luge slide down
so missed that) but it is much easier to access apparently and less crowded. This section of the wall was first built during the Mongol period in the 12th and 13th century and later restored during the Ming dynasty. I talked Ernest into climbing to the 2nd tower. It was really cool.
After the Wall we went for lunch where each table was given a small bottle of Chinese vodka for each person to take a shot from. The vodka is 56% alcohol by volume or about 112 proof. Of course, Ernest gave me his shot, which was good since I had a bit of a headache, and that was immediately cured (what a miracle!). I actually was given someone else's shot so I felt pretty good after lunch.
We then drove to the Ming Tombs, only 13 of the 16 Emperors were buried here. We couldn't actually see any tombs so not as exciting as it could have been for me if I'd been allowed to crawl around old rocks (that's for you, Janet and Wayne), but we walked along the Sacred Path that was erected in 1541. It is lined with statues of various court officials
and sacred animals.
On the way back to the city, we drove by the Olympic Village, but it is closed to the public so we could only take pictures from across the freeway, which was a little disconcerting. However, the Bird's Nest and Water Cube and the communications tower are just as impressive in person as they were on TV.
The group had dinner together and were headed back to the bus when Ernest and I were confronted, as we had been often throughout the trip, by one of the street vendors. However, this one was selling knock off Olympic shirts asking 30 yuan for each. Ernest offered him a price of 10 yuan, about $1.50, they guy refused. But as we were waiting on the bus for the others, the guy came up to our window and asked him to come back out. He relented, saying he'd lost money on him, and Ernest walked away with 2 shirts. When he got back on the bus and told the others what he'd done, six people immediately went out and bought their shirts for the same price, although one or two tried to get him even lower. The vendor
came back to our window to wave goodbye and he had a smile on his face so I don't think he lost too much on us. Ernest thinks he can get another vendor tomorrow to sell him the same shirt for even less tomorrow. The other tour members were very impressed by Ernest's bargaining skills, but those of us who know him, know that this is his life.
Tomorrow we get to spend some time with locals in the Hutong area, old neighbors of Beijing, where most homes were constructed during the Tang dynasty.
P. S. to my Bulldog Buddies: I did manage to get up in time to catch the last of the 3rd qtr and 4th qtr on ESPN.com.........I mourn 😞
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