The Family

The Family
Spring at Biltmore

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day Two, Part Two: The Great Wall

This was the day I had been waiting for from the minute we decided to go on this trip. I had visions of Jacob taking the first few steps of his life on The Great Wall. And with all of this dreaming and anticipation, you would have thought I would have ensured I had enough memory on my camera to capture all of our Great Wall moments...wouldn't you? Well, let's just say we had taken so many pictures the first day and a half, that I did NOT, in fact, have enough memory. As soon as we found some flat ground and took Jacob out of the carrier to do some walking, my camera shut off..."Memory Full". Thank Heavens for Steve and Shannon!! They took the majority of the pics on this post.

We spent over two hours on the JuYongGuan Pass. This part of The Wall is the nearest section to Beijing. It was also in the shape of a circle, as it was originally used as a strategic point for the Chinese Army to keep supplies, food, and extra soldiers. JuYongGuan is one of the three greatest passes of the Great Wall of China. The Pass is dotted with multiple Watch Towers.

We believe this this area should be renamed to "The Great Stair Case in China" as there seemed to be more stairs than wall. And the stairs were incredibly steep and uneven. I, luckily, was not carrying Jacob in the backpack, so I cannot complain. :) We all got our cardio workout in that day!

Our timing was perfect. I would want to be there in the summer months. We had all bundled up to brace for the cold mountain air, but after just a few dozen stairs, we all started stripping our layers. In addition, it wasn't nearly as crowded as it can be in the high tourist months.

The views and history surrounding us were breath-taking. We did not take for granted this once in a life time opportunity. Jacob enjoyed the hike up and the time out of the carrier for some Photo-Ops, but he proved that he can nap anywhere as he slept most of the hike down. :)

Beijing Day Two, Part One

Our second day in Beijing started early and was our big day. Not only was it Thanksgiving in the United States, but this was the day we were going to get to visit The Great Wall. And let's face it, this was certainly going to be the highlight of our trip.
Thursday, November 28 took us outside the Beijing City limits. It was a beautiful day and much warmer than Wednesday had been. The next few shots were taken from a moving bus, but I feel I was able to capture a few sights of city life. Only a small percentage of the city population are able to afford cars, so there are bikes EVERYWHERE! Even more so that we see in Japan. Many city workers use bicycles in place of cars, as this garbage man demonstrates. We even saw several groups and individuals in public parks practicing Tia Chi.

The further we drove outside the city limits, the worse the air quality became. Our tour guide explained that all of the efforts the government went to ensuring smog had lifted for the Olympics was limited to Beijing City Limits. This meant the air surrounding the suburbs was still in bad shape.

We began our day at a Government owned Jade Factory. All the shopping areas and factories we were taken to were government owned (except one). The Chinese Government made sure we spent our souvenir money with them. :) And so how did we start our morning? Buying me a jade bracelet of course! Yes, I was the sucker that talked my hubby into getting me the top quality jade bracelet, as opposed to the much more affordable ones in the larger gallery. I also have decided if I ever go back into retail, I will focus on hiring more Chinese sales associates as they know how NOT to take no for an answer. Anyways, I am very happy with my beautiful jade bracelet. I absolutely adore it! And as usual, Jacob caught the eye of the sales girls. I was also able to find a pretty pair of jade stud earrings that my mother had requested.

We passed on the purchase of this Jade carved ship.....only a mere $250,000.

As we continued our way out of the suburbs and into the mountains, we stopped at the Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs. The Ming Tombs are situated on the southern slope of the Purple Mountain. Work on the tombs began even before the Emperor Hong Wu (founder of the Ming dynasty) died in 1398. These tombs are some of the largest Ming Tombs in China. They are also the only Ming Tombs located outside Beijing. Hundreds of small stone statues still guard the Emperor's tomb today, although much of the original site has been destroyed. The approach to the tomb, also called the Sacred Way, is along Shixiang Lu, a pretty path littered with stone statues of real and mythical animals. This was also a Photo-Op Heaven for Jacob.

Before heading to The Great Wall, we stopped for a quick tour, lunch, and some shopping at a pottery factory.

Next Stop....The Great Wall!