October 24/25, 2018 – Beijing, China
The Great Wall! “He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man” – Mao Zedong. I am now a true man!
China’s greatest engineering triumph is not one continuous entity but in reality, it exists in chunks interspersed with natural defenses (such as precipitous mountains) that need no additional fortifications.
We were very lucky that there were not as many people on the Great Wall as can be however, it was very smoggy that day and so pictures are not as clear as I had hoped they would be.
We had 1½ hours at the Great Wall and so I was determined to climb as far as I can. As you can see from the picture above, there are no people in the photo but compare it to the photos below and you can see that I got above the “people” line. Climbing all the stairs on the ship was good training for the hike up the wall.
There were some incredible views from the wall and being fall time, the colours were stunning, albeit muted by the smog.
Our final stop in the Beijing area was the Ming Tombs. This is the final resting place of 13 of the 16 Ming emperors. The Ming Tombs follow a standard imperial layout. In each tomb the plan consists of a main gate, leading to the first of a series of courtyards and the main hall. Beyond this lie gates or archways leading to the Soul Tower, behind which rises the burial mound. Three tombs have been opened to the public and we only saw one…Chang Ling.
Our final stop before heading back to the ship was lunch at a jade factory. While I was not initially impressed with the obligatory factory setting, it was much better than expected. Firstly, the meal was excellent, again in a traditional Chinese family style setting where they just continue to bring out food, one dish at a time.
After the lunch, we had time to stroll around and look at the jade and yes, a salesperson followed you around happy to show you anything you were interested in. It was all very expensive but what made it more interesting were all the larger piece costing thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars. In fact, it was as much a museum to me as a sales opportunity for them and I enjoyed the artistry and precision that went into these pieces.
That’s it for Beijing! It was an incredible 2 days in port with so much to see and do. Next stop…Shanghai! Stay tuned for more wonderful pictures!