So, if anyone says to you, you should climb the Great Wall, imagine climbing. It is literal. A stroll this is not. In fact, they offer medals (for sale, of course, because that's what they do in China!). I EARNED one. Through the howling, frigid winds, and slippery steps I was the only one on my bus to conquer the walk. I imagine that in the warm weather it would be a pleasant, scenic hike. But in mid-winter, it is a feat.
I arrived in Badaling after lunch at the government sponsored jade factory. Nothing was cheap or unique there. I love precious stones, if only to look at them, but even I couldn't find anything especially appealing as a memorabilia. I think I will settle for something fake (oops! with a little less quality, I mean) back in town at a flea market.
My day started with a phone call at 7:30a.m. I had had an early breakfast just in case I couldn't find anything I recognized as food during the day. I wondered why we had to show up at the Forbidden City with about 20 minutes to wait for the gate to open. It could easily have been 20F and the sun was weak. I was not in a mood to make friends because I was too cold, but there were some very nice Filipinos who chatted me up. Then one American road warrior offered to take my pictures if I took his.
This "City" is old and not short on details. If you are into art history, you might enjoy the walk through. I was able to get closer to his rooms than I did to these long, unused ones. (Did that come out right?). Anyway, you are several yards from anything you would desire to touch. In fact, you are outside for the whole walk through. So my photos reflect the little I could catch and the interesting details that excited me---like roof lines.
As we exited the South Gate, my wandering mind could not resist looking for a path to Tiananmen Square, but there was none. We were separated by a broad avenue. "Looka, looka", there was a subway We descended and ascended through a security check point and out onto the large gathering space. I love self-empowerment. I could easily have been in that university crowd so many years ago. However, the significant honor at the site is dedicated to China's fallen soldiers of their many wars. The Square is flanked by the China History Museum and the Hall of the People. I decided then that Beijing was worth the trip.
As we walked away from the hub of the Square, I got my answer to my first question of the day. There were thousands of other people who had decided that that was the day to visit T Square, and I seriously would not have joined the lines to get in at that point. I said as much to the trip coordinator and thanked her profusely.
Our interim stop was at a silk factory where we met a savvy sales man who told us all about the process of making silk and then tried to sell us a wide range of silk products. Some were very beautiful. Again, the best looking things cost quite a bit. I picked out something for the kids and put away my wallet.
We were off to Badaling and a climb I will long remember.
>>> Post by Joey from United States of America
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