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Impressions of China

San Francisco | Beijing 1 | Beijing 2 | Beijing 3 | Beijing 4 | Xian 1 | Xian 2 | Guilin |  Chong-Qing
Yangtze River 1 | Yangtze River 2 | Yangtze River 3 | Shanghai 1 | Shanghai 2 | Shanghai 3 | Observations
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Beijing - Day Two

To paraphrase that great author, Snoopy, "It was a dark and stormy day." I have wanted my whole life to see the Great Wall. The day was overcast, smoggy, and overcast. Oh yes. Did I mention the fog? And the mist? The Wall was visible only as a ghost image.

We drove an hour and a half from the hotel to the Wall and arrived just as an African dignitary was on tour. So we had to wait. Carol was not dressed warmly enough for the cold clammy windy weather at the Wall so she bought a bright red sweatshirt which claimed, "I climbed the Wall." That's dressing for the occasion.

You couldn't see ten feet in front of you when we started the climb. And a climb it was. People walking down were pitched at 45ยบ. I soon gave up as I was clear that we would not see much this day regardless of how high we climbed. It was an impressive but really disappointing visit.

[CC note: I think "context" is the reason our experience of the Wall was so disappointing. Unlike sites such as the Forbidden City where one's attention can be completely and satisfyingly focused within the four walls (so to speak), the Wall is completely different. Yes, the Wall itself is a marvel of engineering and construction, but that's not what constitutes the full experience of the Wall. The real power of the Wall, which is immediately obvious from any clear-day picture, is in its sinewy trail through impossible mountains both near and far-the aforementioned "context." Yes, very frustrating and disappointing.]

We also saw something that we did not know existed - a second Wall, inside the first Wall, and although not as massive it was an impressive Wall nonetheless. The place we stopped was historically a rest stop for Mongolians as they traveled to Beijing. The Wall at this point is even more improbable to climb.

We then visited the Ming Tombs. The entryway to the burial site of thirteen emperors was a long, serene path (amazingly empty of tourists) bordered on both sides by weeping willow trees and, toward the end of the path, a long boulevard of carved statutes whose purpose was to protect the emperor from enemies. The tomb itself (only one is available for public view) is reminiscent of the architecture of the Forbidden City - as it should have been as it was also built at the same time. Again, the structures and grounds were huge.

Carol wanted to be a concubine (the word the guide used for the emperor's wives). This was a precarious position to hold as such ladies were killed when the emperor died and were buried nearby his tomb. [CC note: Concubine, no, empress - - yes!, which I am here. Being empress was a good thing since she was Wife Numero Uno and was not routinely dispatched when her husband died. PH - not the story I remember.]

San Francisco | Beijing 1 | Beijing 2 | Beijing 3 | Beijing 4 | Xian 1 | Xian 2 | Guilin |  Chong-Qing
Yangtze River 1 | Yangtze River 2 | Yangtze River 3 | Shanghai 1 | Shanghai 2 | Shanghai 3
Observations


HOME  |  AUSTRALIA 2003  |  ACROSS AMERICA  |  IMPRESSIONS OF CHINA  |  VIETNAM  |  AFRICA  |  AROUND THE WORLD 2009  |  SOUTH AMERICA 2009  |  LEGENDARY CULTURES 2011
  |  TURKEY AND GREECE  |  CIRCLE THE ARCTIC