Days 30 and 31: Beijing: Hello and Good-bye
|The view from our hotel room|
Coming back to Beijing was like coming home. After the madness of Vietnam, Beijing felt calm, orderly and safe. We came back to the Swissotel, such a beautiful place in a great spot right on the subway, with several terrific restaurants and our favourite massage joint right across the street!
We spent our first day back at the Old Pearl Market picking up last minute purchases and our second day accomplishing another one of our lifelong dreams, walking on the Great Wall. We hired Yung, a man from Beijing, to drive us there and back so that we could have the flexibility of going and coming home when we wanted. It was a lovely drive into the mountains, just over an hour outside of the city. We had gotten up bright and early so that we could be there at 8:00 am when they opened in order to beat the crowds. We took the gondola up, which was perfect, because it was well below freezing with a light layer of snow on the ground so we felt like we were going skiing! Bryce just kept saying that he sure is glad he isn’t a brass monkey!
The Great Wall is another testament to the grit and determination of the Chinese people. It is built in rough, mountainous country, and it is estimated to stretch between 5500 and 6200 miles. It dates back over 2000 years in some sections, and is every bit as amazing as the pictures that we have all seen over the years. We kept looking at each other and saying, “We are actually walking on the Great Wall!” By the time the crowds started to appear, we were chilled right through and were ready to start making our way back to the cable car for our trip back down the mountain.
|Bryce in front of the mauseleam|
We had Yung drop us off at Tiananmen Square, another amazing sight. We had a look around, then a stroll past all the monuments. Bryce wanted to see The Chairman, who lies in state and I was willing to go along even though I am no fan of Mao, and really have no desire to see a dead person of any sort. However, they wouldn't let me in because I had a backpack and they just looked at me and said, “No bags!” I’ve never been called a bag before, at least to my face, but being the good sport that I am, I stayed outside in the freezing cold and let Bryce to take a gander at the corpse. Here’s what he had to say about it:
“What a show! I received better treatment than in Disneyland, because of my round eyes and the cane. Special row, special aisle! There were hundreds of Chinese people on the other side of Chairman Mao, and little ole me all by myself on the VIP side. So I paid my respects to a guy that let 35 million of his country folk starve to death so that he could put all the country’s resources into trying to defeat the Americans in the Korean War! Nice going, Tse Tung! He looks a bit like Elvis, if you ask me!”
We spent the afternoon packing, which turned out to be quite a big job since we needed to match up all our receipts with our merchandise. We never thought when we were doing all our shopping that the receipts are in Chinese, so we had to make our best guess as to what went with what! Even though he really wanted one, there just wasn’t room in our luggage for Bryce to get the Starbuck’s mug!
We are tired but happy, so completely satisfied with all that we have seen and done. We are looking forward to coming home and seeing our friends and family and our little dog Ricky. After that, the thing that I am most looking forward to is eating a hot dog, Bryce is looking forward to sleeping in our nice soft bed.