China2011 travel blog

The Sacred Way


Turtle Dragon

Jade Dragon

The Great Wall

More great wall

Even more great wall



Up before the wake up call again – still not adjusted to China time – then a light breakfast. Alice's key does not work so she didn't get her walking shoes. But on the bus by 9:00 and on our way to the Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs. Walked away from the tombs through some fantastic sculptures – Generals. Dragons, Camels, Elephants, Horses – two pairs of each – one standing and one kneeling (the animals anyway). A leisurely walk with quiet flute music in the background coming from cement stumps.

Then back on the bus to the jade “factory.” After a five minute talk about jade work, with one worker carving away with his electric grinder, we were taken to a display room where we were shown the various types of jade for about ten minutes. Then we were led into the jade shop and had 45 minutes to look around (with about forty sales clerks. One of them followed me around for ten minutes rushing up and explaining anything I looked at!).. Some beautiful work – wonderful sculptures and jewelry, but very expensive. One huge piece cost over $80,000 – but comes with free shipping!

Lunch, at the jade store, was mediocre at best – another Lazy Susan affair. It was followed up by a nice cup of ice cream (extra fee) so that was nice.

Then off through rather mountainous countryside to the Mutianyu section of the great wall. The drive followed the Grand Canal for most of the way, then next to a river with waterfalls, water wheels, and people fishing with bamboo poles. Many old homes with the ancient tile roofs, but many new buildings and construction as well.

We arrived at the entrance to the great wall and had to pass through a flood of vendors selling everything from fruit... to jade... and even a t-shirt with Obama as Chairman Mao!

We took a gondola ride to the top and could see well over a mile of the wall – massive and fascinating. Towers that would be the sleeping quarters for the garrisons. Exit ways on the interior side, steps and steep slopes. It was in good repair and the views were spectacular – but it was also very hot.

Alice and I headed down through the vendors – all of whom were very pushy – standing in your way and not moving when you bumped against them. We bought a few small things – and bargained really hard. Walked away from some of them and they would call after me saying OK – your price....

The bus ride back was supposed to take an hour, but took two because of the traffic, which was piled up even before we got back to the city. Once we were back we had a mediocre dinner, then back to the rooms. Alice went for a swim and I went to hunt out an ATM.

Finally, a thunderstorm rolled into the city and we lost power for a bit. Trying to force myself to stay awake to get on to China time...

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