Wednesday, February 22, 2012

China - part 4 (the Great Wall, my thoughts, and everything I have missed)

Okay, here we go!  Hopefully I can wrap up the rest of our China Vacation!  {Here are parts 1, 2, and 3 if you want to check them out.}

Tuesday 01/31/2012 - Shout to Grandpa K!  I am not sure how old you would be if you were still kicking today, but I think it would have been like 95.  Anywho, I thought of you.

We ate a delicious breakfast at 7:15 A.M. (it may or may not have included bacon!).  The part of the Great Wall we went to see was about a two hour drive out of Beijing, so we loaded up at 7:45 and headed out.  We got to the parking lot right at 9:45, listened to some directions from our tour guide, and elected not to take the cable cars up to the wall.  We hiked for about 20 or 30 minutes and arrived at the Great Wall of China! {Insert: my camera died during vacation and so all of these pictures were taken on my phone. which was free. (yeah for free phones!)  so use your imagination.}

The part of the Great Wall we saw was called the MuTianYu Great Wall.  I think the name refers to the area of China that the wall is found in.  I was so happy that there were so few people on the wall when we were there. It was so cool to take in the massiveness of the wall in silence.  There were of course, vendors on the wall trying to sell us tons of stuff and yelling "one dollar, one dollar, onneee dooolllllaaarrr!"  (Best "one dollar" find of vacation: T-shirt with President Obama on it wearing a communist hat.  I highly doubt it was one dollar.)  But by that point in time, I was over them.  I got really good at saying "no thank you" just as many times as they said, "hey, hey one dollar!".

Ian told me on our second date that he was going to go to China.  I thought to myself, "yeah, right - that is never going to happen".  Four years later, here we are.  That was kinda a long story to put as a caption.  Sorry about that.  

We did quite a bit of walking on the wall.  There were "watch towers" every so often.  Back in the day, soldiers would live in these towers to protect China from invasion (or at least that is what I think the tour guide said).  There were some really steep parts to the wall - this was surprising to me.  At some points, I felt I was walking up stairs that would have been impossible to climb up if you were any shorter.

Mutianyu Great Wall in Winter
Obviously, this picture is from, but I think it illustrates how steep some of the stairs were
Some parts of the wall were not steep at all.  The wall really seemed to conform to the top of the mountain itself.  It was breathtaking to look out on the surrounding mountains, blue sky, and amazing scenery.

This is inside one of the watch towers, looking out - some beautiful mountains.

We ended up finishing on our time on the wall a bit earlier than our tour group's appointed lunch time, so we went to Subway (eat fresh!) and ate way too many of their cookies!  Oh man - Subway cookies - America, you are a great nation and I am so glad you have found your way to the Great Wall of China.  We still managed to eat the more traditional Chinese lunch and then headed back into Beijing.  (Ian and I may or may not have eaten the remaining Subway cookies on our drive back to Beijing.  I forget how good America can taste sometimes.)

For our last night in China, we decided to go to Pizza Hut.  I can not recall at this moment what kind of pizza we ate, but it had the cheesy crust!  Have I mentioned how delicious American food is?  We had a great dinner discussing hypothetical questions.  (i.e. would you rather be blind or deaf?  If you could go on vacation anywhere, where would it be? etc, etc, etc).  In Korea, Ian can eat a whole pizza (the crust is made from rice and the pizzas are not very filling).  I can eat a whole pizza (and maybe some ice cream, too).  But we, together, could not eat the Pizza Hut pizza - weird.  I know, I know, I remember all the fun details of vacation.

Wednesday 02/01/2012 - The alarm went off at 5:15 and by 5:35 we were on our way to the airport.  We went through immigration, check-in, and security all in about 30 minutes.  So we had some extra time on our hands.  Being good Americans, we went to Starbucks, bought coffee and scones, and played War.  Ian won.  (I was undefeated thus far on vacation.)  The flight went well.  We got through Korean customs so fast!  It was a good travel day for us.  It felt good to be home again.

My thoughts on China:
I want to be realistic but not overly critical.  If you are an American, living in America, I would not suggest that you go on vacation to China.  If you are living in Asia, then yes, you might want to check China out.  It was pretty cool to see the Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall.  The people of China are {insert a diplomatic word here for "rough around the edges"}.  I felt like I have adjusted to life in Korea - I know that there will be men who pee on the street and people who stare at me.  However, children pooping on the side of the street when there are public restrooms within a few feet and people trying to take advantageous of us is a little outside of my comfort zone for the time being.  Maybe if I lived there for awhile, I would adjust.  Like I said, realistic but not overly critical.

That wraps up China for us!

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