One down, six to go. Today we visited one of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China. It was, in a word, breathtaking. We started our day eating breakfast at our hotel. Afterwards we boarded the bus to begin our journey to the wall. During the two hour ride, our new tour guide for Beijing, Charlie, entertained us with personal stories and interesting facts about Beijing and about China throughout history. We learned about the history of the Great Wall and stories about Marco Polo's journey to China and Attila the Hun.
As we neared the wall, a range of gorgeous mountains came into view. We reached the foot of the mountain and the wall came into view. A gorgeous ancient mass of carefully constructed rock jutting out of the mountains. It was explained to us that during it's construction, the thousands of workers constructed furnaces at the top of the mountain in order to produce the bricks instead of hauling them up the mountain.
We walked up the steep mountain road to the little hut where a woman took our tickets and filed us through a turnstile. One flight of stairs later and we were at the entrance to a ski lift which we boarded two at a time and rode to the top of the mountain. We were slowly elevated through the trees until we dismounted at the top and stepped foot onto the ancient stones which make up the Great Wall. We took a few group photos and then split off into smaller groups. We all adventured in our groups along the wall and took pictures until we could not walk any more.
We made our way back to the ski lift, but rather than taking the slow lift back, we each boarded a toboggan and rode down the mountain where we bought ice cream and souvenirs.
Our lunch was a noodle lunch. We went to a beautiful little hotel where we sat at s long table with large, communal bowls of noodles along with various toppings and ingredients. We all made our own bowls of noodles and ate dumplings. After we ate, we learned how to roll and cut noodles by hand, from the staff of the restaurant.
Lunch was followed by a talk with a local doctor whose life changed during the cultural revolution. She told us about how she would work the fields by day and deliver babies and help the sick by night. We learned about the training of doctors during the rise of Mao and how the doctor was selected by her village to be sent to learn all the medicine she could over just a couple of years.
We relaxed on our bus ride back to the city, our feet all still sore from the day of walking. When we arrived back in the city, Charlie, our guide, pointed out the 2008 Olympic village and other impressive buildings in the heart of the city. We had an early dinner at a Beijing restaurant, family style, around a circular table. We shared soup, and stew over rice while talking about our day.
Our day ended with a foot massage at the hotel. Some of the 45 minutes were relaxing, some of it was brutal. My legs still hurt as I am writing this.