Monday, March 17, 2008

Impressions of the Great Wall & Beijing

We took a bus out to the Great wall today. On the way we stopped at a Jade Factory. They showed us people carving and Polishing Jade. Based on the amount of tour buses in the parking lot it is one of those places they take you to shop and make commission, who knows. At any rate there was a lot of interesting jade pieces, they told us about soft jade and hard jade. Anyway - there was some beautiful things as well of things that are not my taste ( sculpture of a cabbage, or and Any Animal you can thing of.) I did buy a few things, However my favorite things there were the Beautiful Furniture with Jade inlaid in it - I took a pic of a table, that was incredible. every piece was different and beautiful. didn't even bother to look at the price. 

After we shopped we went to the Great wall. it is perhaps 1 hour out of town. at least the section we went to was. 

I took a ton of pictures - even a few of ducky. anyway - we all had a great time climbing up the wall. the section we were at was a steep up hill climb the whole way. The first impression is awe and over whelmed with a sense of history, but when you start the climb you start to notice little things like the stones near the rails are indented and have a bow in them - how many people did it take to curve the stone like that?
Another interesting detail - is the steps them selves are all different sizes.  Some are very high and some are very small - you may have 5 small in a row and then 1 high step that is a challenge to climb - especially after you half way up already. It was beautiful - the day was perfect sunny no wind. 

Another thing I liked was the road and pathway leading to the steps was covered with the Dragon Claw type trees. they were all there perfectly lined up like an army of trees.  Anyway at least I like to think of it that way.

There was plenty of things to buy I got allot of souvenirs for the boys and a few other people. I haven't been able to buy any Olympic type things they haven't given us much free time. our entire say if scheduled and filled ...almost a little to much.
At any rate the Great wall was only part of the day - after  we stopped at a Porcelain Factory we saw from start to finish how they make those beautiful Vases - albeit overpriced. Again the parking lot was filled with tour buses - we are all starting to feel we are separated from the real China. we all want to rent vespa's and drive around the city where their aren't any tour buses. 

You only need to be in Beijing for half a day before you start to notice - that there is so much conflict or maybe contrast is a better word. 
Ancient Structure next to a modern Hi-Rise or an Ancient Structure converted into strip mall type shops - I saw more than one, but on the way to the forbidden city - the tour guide told us used to be a Palace of a Prince a brother or some relative of the Royal Family. At any rate it is an odd thing to see. I'm not sure what I expected it is Beijing in 2008. Maybe because our country is so young I didn't really imagine what it would be like

Another thing you notice right away it the number of Cranes that are in the city I kid you not - north, South east or west, not matter which way you turn you see at least 7 or 8  - every structure they are building is a Hi-Rise - and interestingly - No parking anywhere to speak of. All the new building are very tall, narrow and close together. Its like Vegas on Steroids The City truly is  Growing Exponentially.

After the Porcelain factory we went to the summer Palace - The Dragon Lady rebuilt it after the it was burned down during the 2nd Opium War. As Large as the forbidden City was - The Summer Palace was 4 times larger - we were not there very long and got a sort of Summary type tour, but what we saw was very beautiful - and you could see the Women touch that the dragon lady had on the place - It was very different from the Forbidden City.

I will write more later - 
take care


Anonymous said...


It all sounds so wonderful and fascinating! It sounds to me like you all want less touristy stuff, you want to get more involved, sink you teeth into the history more, I hope you get that opportunity!

I love your pictures! More please! :)

Shell said...

Love all the pics!! (especially ducky)Sorry about the awful flight experience!! Enjoy the rest of your trip!!