Saturday, August 11, 2007

Day Four (7/29/07)

Today yours truly saw and climbed one of the 7 Wonders Of The World, and even have a certificate showing that I climbed the Great Wall. Before I get into my Great Wall adventure, let me go through my day.

We began the day by taking a tour of a jade factory. We were shown how the statues and jewelry were made and then given time to shop.

After the jade factory we visited the Ming tombs. Thirteen of the sixteen Ming emperors are buried here and we were lucky enough to see an exhibit of some items that were buried with one of the emperors. I will have to say that I was a little disappointed by the Ming tombs because I was expecting more than what was actually there.

Our next stop was the cloisonne factory and lunch. We saw how they made the cloisonne jewelry and vases. After the factory tour was lunch which again was delicious and it gave me a chance to try some fire water. Fire water is 120 proof alcohol and packs quite a punch (I was able to sweet talk the restaurant into let me take home an unopened bottle). It probably wasn't a good idea to take a shot of this before climbing the Great Wall though.

We then made the trip to the Badaling part of the Great Wall. It was actually very crowded which you can see by the pictures below. When we got there our tour guide told us that there were two different ways we could take on the wall: the easy way or the difficult part (which gave a better view). Those who know me can already guess that I did the tough part of the wall. Much of the climb was extremely steep and I had to stop 4 times to catch my breath. My original goal was to make it to the fourth tower, but I only made it to the second (which was about a mile and a half walk). I was amazed at all the people selling stuff on the wall and I finally caved in and bought two things. I bought a certificate with my picture on it showing I climbed the Great Wall and I bought a hand engraved picture of the Great Wall. I was not let down at all by the Great Wall and it is an experience I will never forget.

Tonight I also attended the Peking Opera. I went into the performance kind of leery, but I was actually entertained the entire time. The costumes were very colorful and there were a lot of gymnastics going on. I also had no idea that Jacki Chan got his start in the Peking Opera. They also had a video board on either side of the stage that translated what they were saying into English. It was funny because before the performance out tour guide said that people either loved or hated the Peking Opera and after talking to people afterwards she was right.

Here are some of my observations from today:
1. Chinese people do not eat desserts. In America it is customary to have desserts after a meal, but in China they substitute tea and fruit for dessert. Believe it or not China does not even have fortune cookies and no one is sure how the fortune cookies in America came about.

2. After eating all of this authentic Chinese food, I can never go back to the Americanized version. Very big difference.

Tomorrow I am boarding a plane and flying to Xi'an for a few days.

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