One highlight of our time in China was a bike ride and hike to the Great Wall (or "Long Wall" as the folks in China know it).
This wall is
long, estimated to be about 5,000 miles/8,800 km long, including all the bits of trenches and piles of stones along the way (5,000 miles is the equivalent of driving from Los Angeles to Myrtle Beach and back). And it is not one wall, but a series of walls and other fortifications intended to keep out different nomadic raiders. We didn't run into any nomadic raiders, so I'd say the Great Wall works.
Since this wall is 5,000 miles long, there are about 5,000 places to visit this wall. We went to spot called "Gold Soup". I think it is the Jinshanling section mentioned in Lonely Planet
. Very thankfully, it was rather lonely indeed that day. Except for one Singapore business man and two Dutch backpackers, we basically had these miles of the Great Wall completely to ourselves.
This bit of the Great Wall is very near a river with lots of fresh trout.
This family has a little house next to the river with their own trout pond. They supply fish to the little restaurants on the road. That was the very best meal of our whole trip: Trout pulled from the stream and cooked up with mushrooms, pepper leaves and whatever else. I have no idea. But very delicious.
Here, is one curious local saying hello to Anna.
Now this is different: This is a window at a little inn. The little door is a place in the wall directly beneath the bed. The innkeeper will place a warm coal in this little door to warm the bed on cold nights.
I have no idea what this says. But about ten feet away, sitting underneath a bush is an ancient little old mountain lady wielding a wicked-looking farm tool. We paid her ten kaui, just a few cents really, to pass. Maybe she keeps the raiding Mongols out. She's done a good job, so she is certainly due her money.
A beaten path off the beaten path.
Perhaps part of the reason this part of the Great Wall is lonely, is that you need to cross this bridge.
Fire crackers to scare away the evil spirits! The Chinese invented gun powder, so their fire crackers are pretty potent. And we didn't encounter any ill-willed spirits, so all's good!
Great Wall grafitti. And I'm still thinking about, too...
Jack's "The One" (think Matrix).
Great mystery: They sky in Beijing and the environs is ... well ... different
. Upon approach to the Beijing airport, I looked out the window and couldn't see Beijing through the cloud (?) cover. As we descended, I kept waiting to see an outline of, well, anything. I was completely taken by surprise by the sudden thud of terra firma under the gear. And I was still waiting to see something, anything, my first "thing" in China. Aha! There: some kind of tower structure. And the airport itself? Maybe we are on some really distant runway. No? Oh, it's right there. Okay, so it's fog? No, not fog: It was about 85 degrees out. Is it smog? I live in Los Angeles: I know smog. Smog is a grey, grimey layer that hovers over downtown. There is a top to it and sort of even a bottom. You can get above the smog. This milky white hazy stuff is not like that. Our entire time we were there, almost a month, except in the morning as it rose, we never saw the sun. It was sunny, but there was no sun. It was hot, but shade was not present. Fog? Smog? Haze? What is
this stuff? Pollution? Really? In gloppy clouds that you can photograph miles out into the countryside? (I know what you're thinking--"Nancy, clean your stupid lens"--but the lens is clean (or clean enough). Some new kind of sky, I suppose.