The China Chronicles – Beijing City Part 2: The Great Wall

Tuesday 4/15/14 

9:05 AM: Breakfast at the Jade Garden Hotel – an international mecca – was absolutely divine and included Chinese, American, French, and Italian cuisine.

Today we are off to the Great Wall of China. It will take roughly two hours. Our tour guide informs us about Chinese culture. For example, in China, passing the family name is very important and honored. Since the “1-child rule” was implemented in the 90’s to help control the population, and many female babies were aborted, there are roughly 4 million men to 1 million females. The dating scene in Beijing is a jungle, and Chinese women have a saying, “I would rather cry in a BMW than smile on a bicycle.” Chinese women take the opportunity to move up in class and are very direct in wanting to know if the man has a house, car, and job.

Great Wall Info: The Great Wall stretches 5,500 miles from east to west China and occupies a number of natural terrains such as grasslands, mountains, desserts, and plateaus. Made of stone, earth, wood, and brick, it was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) by soldiers, prisoners, and locals. Many people died during its construction and therefore it serves also as a burial ground. Built for protection, it served three different states and is divided into three portions. Having undergone numerous extensions and repairs, it has become a unified wall during the Qin Dynasty though, to this day, portions of the wall lay in ruins 

We are almost at the wall!

 

1:30 PM: “Majestic” is the only word I can use to describe it. 

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We arrived at the bottom of a hill and began walking up to the Great Wall entrance. From there we choose whether to ride a chairlift up to the wall or to climb up the stairs. I decided to climb, but I don’t think I realized what I was getting myself into! I took a second to remind myself that I grew up in the Adirondacks and I’ve done my fair share of hiking, even though I was halfway across the world – this was no different. After ascending the many steps – it took a while – I felt accomplished and got my second wind. 

This portion of the wall, situated amongst mountains, has many irregular steps that range from 2 inches to over a foot and I really needed to watch my step. Along the wall there are watchtowers – separate elevated areas where soldiers could watch for enemies. I joined two other students and walked all the way to the end where we could see the ruined part of the wall.

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To get down, we could either walk down a zillion stairs, or take a toboggan ride. I decided on the toboggan. It was a long windy track and so much fun! I actually took a video of myself riding down! 

Next we are off to a silk factory and Olympic park.

 

5:30 PM: A few things I didn’t realize about silk:

  • One silkworm can produce a silk filament that is 13,000 feet long.
  • One silkworm can produce 50 feet of filament per minute.
  • It takes ten pounds of silkworm cocoons to get one pound of silk.
  • Silk rope is stronger than metal wire – it does not break easily!
  • Silk is cosmetically good for your body.  When your face comes in contact with silk, especially on pillows, it is less likely to become wrinkled. Not only because of the silk protein, but also because the texture is slippery, allowing fine lines and wrinkles to be gently ironed away.

The process of making silk was interesting and I can surely understand why it’s such an expensive material. I’ve been told while in China there are two things you must buy: silk and pearls! Luckily tomorrow we are heading to the pearl market! 

It was awesome to see Olympic park, but found it crowded and full of tourists. I was able to see the water cube and birds nest from the outside. It was brief, but I’m glad to have seen it. We had to hurry because rush hour traffic is horrendous.

 

Tomorrow we are going to the Pearl Market, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. It will be another busy day! I am exhausted and still not caught up on Beijing Time. Wish me luck!

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