China Dispatch #3
Contributed by: Annika Olsen and Isabel Fabacher
November 25, 2013 - We started off today by heading to the Great Wall of China. The bus ride to get there was about an hour long. While we were on the bus, our tour guide explained to us the history of the city Beijing throughout the different Chinese Dynasties. Our lovely tour guide decided that we didn't want to go to the more touristy part of the Great Wall, so instead we went to a different part (lucky for us, it was the hardest and steepest part of the wall near Beijing). When we arrived at the Great Wall, we were all ambitious and ready to climb. As athletes in good shape, we did not expect the climb to be as difficult as it actually was. It looked like an easy walk to the top. Oh boy oh boy were we wrong. We took some "before" photos, and then began the trek. Almost from the beginning, we realized how wrong we were. The stairs were almost straight up at some points, and when you looked up, it seemed as if there was an infinite number of stairs. They just went on and on for forever. It was a major struggle to say the least. Our legs were burning and shaking by the time we reached our goal destination. The fact that it was frigidly cold did not make the climb any easier. We knew that this could possibly be the only time in our lives that we would be able to climb the Great Wall of China, so we were determined to make the most of it and push ourselves so that we could gain the most from this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I could not help but quote Miley Cyrus..."life's a climb, but the view is great". The view was breathtakingly beautiful so it was all worth it. It made us all appreciate the people who built the wall. If it was that hard to climb it, I cannot imagine how difficult it was to build. It was an incredible experience to stand on the top of one of the Seven Wonders of the world. The walk down was not nearly as difficult, but we had to be careful to not trip and tumble down the Great Wall to our deaths. It was an amazing feeling to put our feet on flat ground at the bottom. We all groaned in unison every time we saw stairs for the rest of the day. At the base of the Great Wall, we shopped for things such as t shirts, hand painted scrolls, trinkets, and other fun Chinese things. Overall, hiking the Great Wall of China was a rewarding experience that we will all remember forever.
After we left the Great Wall, we went to this yummy Chinese restaurant. It was also a place where they make this really pretty jade jewelry and statues. We all shopped around for souvenirs and jewelry.
After we got done eating we went to one of Ming's tombs. There are 13 total but today there are only three that are open to the public. The original tomb had been burnt down a long time ago and there were replicas of the tomb where Dingling would have been buried next to his two wife's. People throw money on the tombs for good luck. It is seen as bad luck if you take any pictures down by the tombs. Next to the tombs were 16 smaller boxes where the emperor's jewels were kept. There were replicas of those made too and put into above ground exhibits for us to see. Going into this, we all had an Egypt tomb in mind so going down to see big red boxes was a little bit of a disappointment. It was cool to see all the different stuff they cherished while going into the jewel exhibits. We all piled into the bus and left for our favorite part of the afternoon... The market.
It was an hour and a half drive so we all passed out on the way home due to exhaustion of all the stairs we had to climb at the wall. All of the dads and the rest of the men wanted to go for about 30 min, you could guess who won that fight. Two hours it was! Walking in was just as we expected. Tons of tables full of fake designer jewelry and purses. The first floor had watches and a bunch of electronic stuff. The second had purses, wallets, shoes, and clothes. The third floor had the pearls. They were said to be real and you could get them for about $10! We started on the first floor buying knock off watches! Some of them looked so real and others not so much. After finishing on that floor we discovered the second. So many vendors with every kind of designer and style you could imagine. Walking down the tight aisles was hard with the vendors standing out, shoving stuff in your face telling you, "It good quality, the best!" You couldn't look at something at a table without them showing you everything in the store! They wouldn't let you walk off without a new purse. After we got a new purse we went up to the third floor, the one most people were looking for. There were different styles of pearls and all different colors. Players bought some for themselves and some for their moms or friends.
Around 6:30 all the players and adults started to come back to the door, whipped out from a successful day of shopping and bargaining. We all piled on the bus, and headed to a western place for dinner. Some people played pool while we are hamburgers and like always, passed out and slept on the table.