Great Wall of China (For cheap flights to the Far East,Click Here)

The Great Wall

On the way to lunch at the Great Wall, Peter the guide gave us an interesting talk on the political and economic changes taking place in China. He is very proud of the progress China is making, but he does express a little concern over the fact that he doesn't know his neighbours in his high rise block, unlike the courtyards of the houses in the old city. He says people are very happy that they now have their own shower and toilet, but points out the growing expectations of material posessions.
Up to now, individual taxes have been largely evaded, but most government finance comes from the surplus (what I would call profit!) of the state run enterprises. This is changing. Divorce rate is growing, though even now it is only 5%.
I can't help feeling very sorry for China. Peter's freedom to to tell us all this seems to have come at a very heavy price.
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall is truly amazing. It is much bigger than I had ever imagined. It snakes far into the distance and goes up and down mountains at an incredibly steep angle. Much to my surprise, the path along the top of the wall is not a smooth surface but climbs in huge steps where the wall climbs the mountainside. The steps seem to have been made for giants, and it is really hard work climbing up them. I stopped at the top of the section we were on to admire the view, and it is breathtaking.
Unfortunately when I turned to come back down my breath was taken away for quite a different reason. What had seemed steep to climb looked almost vertical when you come down. I desperately wanted to come down backwards, clinging to the helpful rail, but my fear of the descent was slightly less than my fear of looking a complete idiot. I compromised, and sat down every few steps "to admire the view". If the ancient Chinese soldiers who manned the wall climbed up and down these steps every day they must have been a truly formidable bunch. And how it was built is a complete mystery to me. The great engineering marvels of the late 20th century somehow seem less marvellous after my visit to The Great Wall.
The Great Wall of China
Worrying slightly about how my legs will feel tomorrow, I board the coach for the trip back to the hotel and the Chinese Banquet that Jules Verne have organised. The Banquet is a Peking Duck dinner at a 5 star hotel and is quite good. After the meal, one of the party recalls an amazing drink that he had in China many years ago. After some discussion the waiter produces a bottle which our learned friend declares to be exactly the drink he meant. It was called Mou Tai, and we are each poured a small glass. One sip is enough to tell me that I would regret a second sip. The label claims 53% alcohol by volume, so I stick to Jasmine tea. Amazingly, the ladies in the party think it's wonderful.
After the meal, six of us went to a small local bar for a beer. The family who seem to own the bar insist on bringing plates of various Chinese snacks and seem to find us fascinating and funny. Probably the Mou Tai. The waitress manages to teach me to count in Chinese, and also to write the Chinese numbers. It's been a good day, but China is already very Westernised. A pity.
Tomorrow we go to the Summer Palace, which I shall never forget.

Great Wall of ChinaTrip Contents

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict