Day 7 – What’s so great about this wall? And kick off 2006
OK, so Arlie and I had a really stupid plan about the movie that we were going to make when we go to the Great Wall (of China, duh). The script went something like this….
Arlie (or Stephanie) standing next to the wall looks down and touches it.
Arlie says: I’m here now at the Great Wall and I just want to know – what is so great about this wall.
Camera pans to the Great Wall.
OK – it is really fucking stupid, I know that. You know that. We probably knew that, but obviously thought it was way funnier when we were drunk on martinis and came up with the concept.
So today was the day we were going to execute. Finally…
get your corn on
We got up – the earliest since arriving in China – at 8.30 AM and got out the door to meet our private tour guide and driver by 9.30 AM. And we were off towards the Great Wall. The drive takes about 1 hour. On this particular morning, it happened to be the very first snow in Beijing. We were really excited that we would get some breathtaking views of the wall with some snow.
We forgot one thing. Chinese drivers are crazy. They just swerve into any lane and go at really fast speeds. Add this to some icy roads and you have what resembles a video game. There were at least 15 accidents that we drove past on our way to the Wall. And we ourselves were almost victims to a pretty hardcore crash with a Jetta that bounced off one side of the motorway, almost hit us but missed due to some great manuvering by our driver and then crashed into the other side. Seriously missed us by a hair. Just adds to the excitement of the journey.
Arrived to the wall and our tour guide dropped us off telling us to come back in an hour. We were at the first entrance to the wall and there were quite a few tourists. And did I mention that it was COLD as all hell? Yes. It was.
The first thing on my agenda was to find the warmest possible thing. There was a vendor (just like in ancient days) at the base of the stairs that was selling corn on the cob and hot cans of coffee. So I bought both. Stuck the coffee into my pocket and ate the corn for breakfast. Then the real fun starts.
Climbing up the stairs was no small feat. And there are quite a few stairs. Add this to icy stairs with a lot of tourists and you have trouble brewing. This was some trouble that I wasn’t going to be a willing participant in, so I opted to climb to the lower part and then stand and wonder when we were going to have to amputate my feet from frostbite (and enjoy the view). Arlie – the brave soul that she is – decided to climb up the stairs. Needless to say, she didn’t get very far before she realised that going up was the easy part and coming down was the really crappy part. It was so steep and slippery that you had to grab onto the railing and hope that no one above you fell. Scary stuff.
Arlie made it down alive and then we made our really stupid video. We were quite proud of ourselves.
After the wall, we went to visit the obligatory upsell at the Cloissone vase factory where we ate some really nasty lunch and bought some garbage.
Then on to the Ming Tombs. The Ming Tombs are – well – obviously tombs of Ming. It was originally built only as Changling, the tomb of Emperor Zhuli and his empresses. This is the most magnificent of the tombs. The succeeding twelve emperors had their tombs built around Changling.
kickin it with buddha
We went into one of the structures – there are 13 in total – housing all those old emperor’s bodies from the Ming dynasty. In total there were 16 Ming Emperors, but we were told that 3 of their bodies weren’t there. One was in Nanjing where the capital used to be. And the other two were lost. Oops.
After this we went to a silk factory with more upselling that we didn’t buy and then back to the hotel to prepare ourselves for our super New Year’s festivities.
These festivities included going downstairs for some Chinese food while wondering if you are in China and you eat Chinese food, do you call it just food? Then going back to our room to watch a pirated copy of the Last Emperor. At midnight we called up and ordered french fries and chocolate cake and celebrated by opening a can of coke and diet coke. Party animals we are!!!!