Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beijing Day 2

OK, so everyone knows that this is what the Great Wall is supposed to look like:

What most of you may not know is that for 99.9% of the time, climbing the great wall really looks more like this:

...and that's because for the entire exhausting climb, you really can't afford to look around to enjoy the view because you risk tripping on the unevenly-spaced steps and tumbling to a humiliatingly ignoble death. Or possibly being trampled from behind by the masses trailing in the wake of your feeble footsteps. Or slamming unexpectedly into the poor bloke who's stopped abruptly in his tracks, gasping along with you in perfect harmony.

From afar, one inescapably feels the overpowering awe, beauty & wonder of the Wall, the only manmade structure visible from space.

From anear, one inescapably feels like a triathalon followed by a marathon would have been the wiser choice:

Things improved once we made it (almost) to the highest point of this particular section of the Great Wall. We decided we'd stop one watchtower short of the actual highest point. Call us slackers, but honestly, after you've gotten that far and see the view at that height, another couple hundred yards of burning pain just doesn't make that much difference. And of course there's always the return DOWN that stands ready and waiting to do you in.

We also went to see the Ming Tombs, where 13 of the emperors are buried. This was probably the highpoint of the day, believe it or not. We learned all sorts of things about the history of the emperors and their beliefs in the afterlife.

We also learned that when the emperor died a couple of his concubines were offered in sacrifice. This is where they ended up:

That beautiful huge building behind me is just the gravestone marker for one of the emperors. Talk about money to burn. And that's me standing at the door to the afterlife and crossing over it, hoping for the best.

We also visited a Jade museum. Here is our guide showing us a "family ball" - one solid block of jade that has been carved into three balls that spin inside each other.

And this is my best Happy Buddha impersonation:

Tomorrow we leave for Xian. I think most of the day is traveling so I don't know if you'll hear from us. Then Friday we'll visit the Terracotta Warriors and see what those old guys have been up to lately.


Karin said...

I love reading your blog and seeing all the great pictures you take! I have always wanted to see the Warriors in Xian, so I'm looking forward to reading about them on Friday. :)

Angel said...

I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ARE ACTUALLY THERE!!! You crack me up. :0) Angel

Angel said...

Those pictures are JUST SO COOL! Of course my FAVORITE is you gasping for air! ;0) LOL!!! Angel

Anonymous said...

You look completely miserable on the wall! Maybe next time you should carry more stuff - why didn't you hire a camel or something? Too bad they haven't thought to hook up a rope/pulley system to slide down to the bottom on. That would make it fun.
So the offered concubines get that grate in the ground? Really put things in perspective for girls over there - royal concubine or not! -Sarah