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Published: September 24th 2005
Monday, September 5, 2005 Weather: Clear and beautiful. Temperature: Still low 90's.
A great day to see the Great Wall! After breakfast at the Beijing Hotel we got an early start for the drive to the Great Wall at Badaling, about 1 ½ hours from the city. This was a wise move as we arrived among the early groups that swelled as we enjoyed our walk on the Wall. On arrival our bus disembarked directly outside of the Badaling Souvenir Shop where we were to meet at the prescribed hour for the return. We then moved as a group to the entrance to the Wall where our guide arranged our entry and then to an area where a group photo was taken. The picture was available for purchase as part of a souvenir book of the Wall for $15 US for those who ordered and it was delivered at the Souvenir Shop before we boarded the bus. The Souvenir Shop contained quality merchandise that was guaranteed by Viking to be as represented. Bargaining was possible but not to the extent available from the stall merchants along the path to the Wall. This store had a wide selection of genuine jade
articles at substantial prices. We were advised that our lunch to directly follow our departure from the Wall would be at a Jade Factory whose merchandise was also included in the Viking guarantee.
On our arrival at the lunch venue were met by a young lady from the factory who gave us a short tour and explanation about the jade industry. Her explanation and demonstration of how to tell real jade from artificial jade was most informative. Following that short introduction we proceeded to the second floor where we were served a genuine Chinese lunch! Surprise! This was becoming routine..... After lunch the route of departure took us directly into the showroom where thousands of beautiful pieces of jade made into anything you could possibly think of and were for sale! Some purchases were made but mostly looking was done.
From there we proceeded to the Ming Tombs for a visit to the part known as the Sacred Way. We did not visit the tombs. The Sacred Way is a path leading to the tombs approximately ½ mile long. Our bus left us at one end and met us at the other. This was basically a stroll to
The Jade Factory
Another Chinese lunch!
view the massive animal structures without narration. Afterwards we returned to the hotel for some rest before our dinner and entertainment of the evening.
Prior trips were taken to see a performance of the Peking Opera that lasted about 2 hours. Apparently this much Chinese Opera was not well received by the guests and Viking has reacted by changing the program. The new program includes a Chinese dinner similar to previous lunches and dinners followed by a show that began with a 20 minute segment of the famous Peking Opera and then became a folkloric show including acrobatic acts. The 20 minutes of Chinese Opera was enough to permit us to understand that 2 hours would have been far more than we would have appreciated as Chinese Opera is nothing like other operas. Our entire program lasted for about 90 minutes following which we returned to the hotel for a good night of rest.
Next: Hutong home visit, rickshaw ride and silk carpet workshop and the flight to Xi'an.
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