How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE

Beijing Day 4 / Part 1 – The Great Wall

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I ate too much again at the buffet-style breakfast. We English 8 met in the main lobby at 8:30 a.m., then traveled an hour or so by mini tour bus to the mysterious Great Wall.

Some facts about the Wall:

  • Sticky rice soup and mortar were used to glue the bricks together
  • Started -200 BC
  • Has been worked for over 2,000 years
  • Still has bullet holes from last battle
  • Needs expensive maintenance due to time and tourism
Some shops

Some shops

What a happening place. Tour buses clogged available parking space. Small shops galore offered touristy goods for sale, from postcards to fridge magnets, hot tea, cold drinks and all sorts of knick knacks. One, a department store type business, carried everything you might imagine. Would you pay $39 for a T-shirt or $25 for a kid-sized one? Would you pay six or seven dollars for a two-inch square fridge magnet? They also carried silk, jade, pearls, life-size Terracotta warrior replicas and furniture. Prices included shipping. For the life of me, I couldn’t sort out the prices aside from the shipping costs out of curiosity.

Approaching the Wall Steps

Approaching the Wall Steps

We left the tourist traps behind and headed up-hill to the entrance of the Great Wall. We saved shopping time for later. The walk was steep. People from all over the world rubbed elbows. A light drizzle began. Sue and I escaped inside a battlement. Inside and out we meandered. Hordes and throngs of people stared at us everywhere. Our English Group 8 wandered off in different directions with a specified time to meet at the large department store.

Looking ahead

Looking ahead

Carolyn lost her camera on the Great Wall. She’d taken off her coat due to overheating and left it on a ledge and walked away. Ten minutes later, she realized it was missing. Dreading it would be gone, she and her husband retraced their steps anyway. Had it been me, I would have cracked under the stress and gone into shock. Forget going back  to be disappointed.

A Steady Climb

A Steady Climb

Surrounded

Surrounded

When Robert heard the story, he insisted on checking if the camera had been turned in. What were the chances of such luck?  He knew who to ask and was informed an announcement had been made over the Great Wall loud speakers about ten times regarding the camera. A security guard had picked it up and turned it in. Each of us rejoiced as if it had been our own camera. Carolyn glowed.

http://www.history.com/topics/great-wall-of-china/videos/seven-wonders-the-great-wall

 Higher Now

Higher Now

At Ground Level Again. Most of these women are over 80,  I'm sure, but energetic as 20-year-olds.

At Ground Level Again. Most of these women are over 80, I’m sure, but energetic as 20-year-olds.

Beijing driving and cars:

  • Rush hour is all day long, not at any specified times
  • Driving restrictions by last two digits of licence number / odd vs even
  • Penalty for ignoring, sometimes 100 points
  • Drivers have 12 points per year
  • If you lose your points for the year, you must redo licence.
  • If caught driving drunk, or even after 1 glass of wine or beer, can lose licence forever
  • 3 million more cars since the Olympics
  • Cost of a car (i.e. Hundai), $10,000 each, manufactured in China
  • An Elantra in 2005, cost $25,000 U.S.D.
  • Lots of new models now because more citizen able to afford cars
  • They like German models
  • Gasoline 7.8 Yuan / litre, about $1.30
I'm still standing

I’m still standing

Next on July 4th, Beijing, Day 4, Part 2: Ming Tombs

For all related posts, click on China Tab at the top of the page.

 

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Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

151 thoughts on “Beijing Day 4 / Part 1 – The Great Wall

  1. Looking good, Tess! Sounds like a LOT of walking. I was somewhat surprised at the crowds…I shouldn’t have been but I rather thought it wouldn’t be overrun with quite so many people. What a great trip you had.

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  2. Sure looks like you and fun 🙂

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  3. The crowds are intense Tess! Such a fabulous story about the camera. Had I been there I would have been squealing with delighted for your travel companion.
    Those women are 80? Whatever they are drinking I want some. 🙂

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    • We were jumping up and down and hugging. I thought my face would crack. I can tell you Carolyn’s almost did, she was that happy. Who would have thought?

      We all wanted to know what they were drinking too. These ladies were under five feet tall and wizard but when they walked, they marched with strength and energy. Amazing.

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      • Get me to China I want that secret. My guess is all that marching is serving them well.
        Happy endings can come. One day soon I will do a post about losing my IPad and passport and money belt on arrival in Slovenia last year. Makes my hands sweat just writing those words .

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      • Andrew mentioned his wife lost her camera during one of their travels and someone had turned it in. Awesome, eh?

        Passport and iPad. Ouch. I look forward to reading about that. ❤

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  4. Reblogged this on mihran Kalaydjian and commented:
    Beijing Day 4 / Part 1 – The Great Wall

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  5. Love the cool pic, Tess. Don’t know that I would want to go through all of that touristy stuff to walk on the Great Wall. I know it is THE Great Wall, but still!

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  6. Its a great monument…… even if its history has been so bloodied…

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  7. I bet you didnt walk the length of the wall…. seems you had a great time if your photos are to go by. 😉

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  8. I don’t think I’ll be going in the near future, so it was great to see your photos and read your experience. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I love your picture! 🙂 I would like to see the Great Wall. But I would want to keep walking, and going, and going. Getting to the points that most of us would never see. I love the pictures of the older ladies. They look FANTASTIC! The Great Wall must have some great health benefits!

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  10. This trip just keeps getting better and better. I am so glad you allowed us along. I love looking in the background at the grey trees and seeing the bits of early bloom coming out – the white pear trees and a few cherry at the wall. I can hardly wait for the post for the 4th!!!!!

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  11. What an amazing sight that must have been to see. Love the pic of you there. How wonderful that your friend’s camera was returned to her. Speaks to the good in the world. As for the driving, I now understand why so many people there ride bikes. Yikes.

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  12. I heard the gift shop there is called Wall Mart.

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  13. See, I would have bought a magnet. My refrigerator is covered with magnets that I buy when I travel lol

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  14. You look fresh as a twenty year old! Loving this story epic … 🙂

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  15. Now that’s a walk through history. Great photo of you and I really like the two older ladies and their costumes. 🙂

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  16. Thankfully Carolyn’s camera was found. Sticky rice and mortar? That threw me. One day I may go, if only in dreams. Loved your photo, still standing made me smile – so thank you for showing us and your travelogue. xx

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  17. Fantastic photos. You’re going to have wonderful memories saved! Thanks for this post. Enjoyed it very much.

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  18. I’d really like to see that wall without all of the crowds and the commercialisation. Nice story about the camera. Kim left her mobile on a boat trip in Saint-Petersburg and declared it gone forever but I went back several hours later and it had been handed in!

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  19. What wonderful photos Tess. I’m glad to see what the Wall looks like on an ordinary day as the ones in the tourist brochures don’t show such crowds. I’ve heard that there are other sections, even more spectacular, less crowded in other parts of China. I really hope I get to see some part of it one day!

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  20. Nice to see a shot of you Tess , looking good girl! Great result on your friends camera. Had your life sized warrior replica arrived yet? 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  21. BRAVO! You did it. I like this theme too. Once upon a time I used it too.

    Sticky rice! My sister-in-law (who is Chinese) has a rice cooker full of the stuff all the time. In her house, it’s the main food group. 😛 And to think it’s used for building walls too. I wonder what it’s doing to our stomachs.

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    • Thank you, Glynis. One of these days, when my son-in-law bakes some cookies, I’ll steal some, break them, make crumbs and take a picture. You had the same idea and I thank you for it. I just didn’t want Tim Hortons on my page. Ha ha.

      The rice probably keeps you ‘glued’ together. 😀 😀

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  22. love the new look of your blog! nicely done. I love how you share the interesting facts along the way. loved the story of the lost camera. thank goodness it was found! great photos too. now I have an up close visual of the Great Wall. thank you for sharing your journey, it’s so interesting!

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    • Thank you and thank you, Toby. I like the down-to-earth facts. I guess they interest me more than others. 😀

      I’m discovering things as I post these that I’ve forgotten about and it’s only been two months since I came home.

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  23. Glad you’re still standing like the Great Wall (and Elton John). I paid £10 (about $18 in Canadian, I think) for a fridge magnet outside Pompeii and that was 15 years ago. Who was the mug?

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  24. I had to chuckle when I saw that sticky rice soup was used as part of the glue to hold the wall together. Maybe they need to use a bit of that during road construction in the US. Another great post, my friend.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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  25. you look great and you have hiked the great wall, what an adventure.

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  26. What do the Chinese think of the Wall? You did an awful lot of walking on this trip. Did you lose weight?

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    • The Chinese people from ALL over came to see the wall as well as us foreigners. Not sure what they think of it. It’s a tourist attraction. Whether they think about it’s actual uselessness, I cannot say.
      Ha ha. Did I lose weight. I thought I must. Surely. I DID tighten up, that’s for sure. All those stairs all over the place and upward climbs in a lot of places made me feel like 20 again. I had buns of steel. I tell you! 😀 Two months later, I’ve lost them to the chair. Sigh.

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  27. When I first read the bit about the camera, I thought you it said that Robert insisted on checking if the camera had been turned ON, rather than IN, and that it turned out a security guard had turned it on. So I was imagining it was some super clever camera with GPS or something in that sent out a signal when it was turned on so that it could be traced. Oh dear…it’s early, I’m not properly awake yet! That was good thinking though, and worth remembering, our first thought in that sort of situation is obviously that someone stole it, and it’s a shame that we think that when clearly there are lots of good people around!

    There’s a TV show over here where a guy goes travelling but he goes on the road less travelled as it were. He went to the Great Wall, but he managed to get to a part that tourists never go to, it was completely run down, almost like rubble in places and quite treacherous for him to climb over. Interesting to see though.

    You look fresh as a daisy in that photo! No sign of weariness.

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    • Ha ha. I had to go back to make sure I hadn’t written turned ON instead of in. My fingers have a mind of their own a lot.

      There is a lot of crumbling. This part where the tourists go have been maintained because it’s such a tourist draw. Even if crumbling, you still cannot walk the whole wall because mountains dead-end the wall walk and continue on the other side. I wonder what will happen? If only part of the wall will be maintained–an expensive project.

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  28. Wow, Tess, you brought TGWOC up close and personal–felt like I was up there with you! Thanks so much and thanks for all the fun facts. Relatively speaking, gas sounds like it’s more expensive there. Love this series!

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  29. The Wall and the stories accompanying your pictures were all spectacular! Your experiences are awesome, so glad you stopped by my blog, will have to read these excellent posts, soon! Take care and enjoy! Get plenty of rest and drink water in bottles! Smiles, Robin

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  30. Love the bag, loving the series.

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  31. Very nice reading and I love your photo “still standing”, you look so cool and composed despite the crowds and energy around. A magical place I would imagine but still must be tiring.
    Bring on more! 🙂

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  32. I have such enamored ideas about the Great Wall, and then hear about the sticky rice soup and mortar, and the thousands of tourists. Yikes. This world has become too small. But then again, isn’t that a wonderful thing? However, I will never eat my sticky rice again without thinking of you and China.

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  33. Love reading about your trip and seeing your picture, too!

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  34. Another enticing post! So pleased about your friend’s camera. It is lovely to read about kindness and honesty.
    I am not fond of crowds, so perhaps your post will be as close as I ever get to the great Wall!! 😆

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  35. You look so good my friend! A lot of walking and also nerve-wracking about your friend’s camera, so glad it turned up like that and was safe and sound, great relief! I had to laugh about the fridge magnets, we always get one whenever we travel for our fridge but that was expensive. Seems everywhere you go these days there is always someone trying to get us to buy souvenirs at twice the price of the usual price…whatever that is!!! Amazing that you got to go to the Great Wall, I doubt I ever will so great to be able to experience it through our eyes 😀 ❤
    PS Like the new blog look 🙂

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  36. Darn…hit too fast. Meant to say: ‘through your eyes’!!! Yi yi yi….sorry about that 😦

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  37. What a great photo. You needed every calorie you had for breakfast for the trek, right? We spent several hours on the Wall a year ago. How did we not discover it was held together with sticky rice? The traffic IS TERRIBLE, isn’t it? Looks like you still had a fine day. Cheers.

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    • Our tour guide told us that and then I looked it up because I thought he made it up. It’s true. Who knew?

      I’ll use any excuse to eat and although I don’t believe I lost weight, I developed buns of steel. Ha ha. Now I’m back to dough again after two months of sitting and blogging.

      One year ago you were there? Awesome. How long was your trip? Did you go with a tour?

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      • Yes, the writing life can lead to doughiness. But it’s worth it, right? We went for 10 days, on our own, with the help of friends to visit in Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Trip Adviser’s handy GPS app.

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      • You are soooo brave. I wouldn’t have the energy to worry about all the added details even though you can take care of them before you leave home. Singapore, eh? We made to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau and many stops in between but not Shanghai. Hmm. I wonder why not?

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      • I wonder too! Shanghains like to think of themselves as Apart and Cosmopolitcan because of the western influence back in the day. Interesting place.

        We didn’t get all the details right, but, amazingly, all went well. We enjoyed ourselves. Probably missed a lot of what you learned from your guides.

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      • Yes, I’d forgotten all the interesting added information our tour guides threw around. Made the trip much more interesting. 🙂

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  38. Tess, thanks for taking us with you on your journey, with so many beautiful details. Many of us get to know about and see the beauty of this country with your words and through your eyes. 🙂 ❤

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  39. Wonderful, amazing and you look great. So nice for you to share. Enjoy always, T

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  40. Tess, it looks like you climbed the Wall on a good day. When we were there it was so crowded that we were nearly carried along by the crowd – particularly tricky on those narrow bits! 🙂 ~Terri

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    • Glad you made out well. We had drizzle. You know, bad hair, feeling crap, that soggy feeling, wish I were anywhere but here feeling? Can you please explain yourself?

      Sorry, sorry, sorry. What were we talking about?

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  41. one of the old ladies I used to visit told me it was made of rice. I went ‘pff’ (without actually saying it, you know) but turned out to be true!

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  42. I’m glad you’re still standing! Great photos. I’ve never been, so I appreciate taking the trip through your images. 🙂 Best, Emily Grace

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  43. Totally amazing that the camera was found. Good photo of you too girlie. 🙂

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  44. Great photo of you standing on the Great Wall of China! That is one long walkway…I read it is 5,500 miles long! Imagine the building of it! Mind-boggling! What a treasure that you were able to walk on it!

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    • It is a long wall with mountains in the way (dead-ended). The problem here is that the reason for building it and all the lives lost and buried beneath it wasn’t a success. The plan didn’t work. They were invaded anyway.

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  45. These are great shots that really help us envision the place and the experience–I love the travel stories too. So glad Carolyn got her camera back!

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    • Isn’t that amazing about Carolyn’s camera. Never in a million years, we all thought but Robert the guide pushed for a check and he was RIGHT! I suppose thieving might not be good for the tourist business. I wonder if that’s why Robert was so insistent on checking with security. Hmm.

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  46. The great wall, now that’s something I might like to see.
    Remember the Gary Larson of it? I can’t find a pic, but it shows two guards standing on the wall. On says: Now let’s see that dog get in here!

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  47. Love the photos of the Chinese women in ethnic costumes. Do you know if they were performers, or is that the way they dress no matter what they do? Fascinating all around. I wonder if there are people who walk the entire wall, like folks who walk the Appalachian Trail, or the Pacific Crest? I guess parts of the wall they would have to circumvent. Great trip you’re having.

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  48. No, these women are not performers. That is their ethnic dress. For women of this age, they were energetic and strong. The wall ascended and descended and was hard on the legs. I asked the guide what ethnic group they might be. He wasn’t sure. I thought Tibetan but he said no.
    You cannot walk the whole wall as it stops and starts at dead ends (mountains). Also, it is crumbling. Parts of it have been spruced up and shored up for visitors but only a certain amount. In the end, the idea why the wall was built in the first place failed. The enemy attacked anyway.
    Yes, this is a stunning trip. In posting about it, I amazed more now than when I was there. We were on automatic pilot from the day we arrived. No time for jet lag. Gone all day from 9:00 am and sometimes until 9:00 pm. Fall into bed and up early the next day. I ate like a horse but gained no weight. Firmed up a lot form climbing all kinds of stairs and walking, walking, walking.

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