Jade, the Great Wall, Cloisonné, Giant Pandas, Olympic Sites and cheap glasses. Authentic China!
The highlight of the day was the trek up the Great Wall. It sounded easier in my mind than it actually was, but it was worth it. Even in 30 degree heat. At one point I had to say Holy, I'm in China climbing the Great Wall. Surreal. We went to the highest point that we could get to. We were pretty sweaty by the top. The kicker was two Chinese women made it to the same point we did - one was pregnant and the other one was carrying a baby. Neither was sweating. We had noodle legs by the time we got back to the bus. And later when I had to use a squat toilet my legs found it challenging!
The stairs on the wall are steep, worn and different sizes so you have to be careful. We had a casualty on the climb. Aunty Mary Lou twisted her ankle and is hobbling around. Aunty Pat and Aunty Deb sherpa-ed her down (I just made up a new verb). Aunty Mary Lou is a committed shopper and she is determined to make it through the Silk Market tomorrow. She's a trooper.
We learned about jade and cloisonné today. Jade is an important stone in the Chinese culture. There are 1200 different kinds of jade - jadeite is the best. Confucius said there are five virtues of jade- benevolence, righteousness, wisdom, courage and trust. He also said men must wear a piece of jade as a behavior corrector. James bought me a beautiful jade bracelet so his behavior does not need correcting today.
We saw the Great Pandas at the Beijing Zoo. I was hoping a big fluffy one with a piece of bamboo in its mouth would come up to the glass for a photo, but it didn't happen. Their backs are cute too. We saw some of the Olympic sites before dinner. Traffic in Beijing is crazy. At one point there was four layers of backed up traffic on the ring road. Dinner was in an authentic Chinese restaurant. That means no forks. And Chinese men smoking at the table. At every meal they give us a saucer size plate to eat off. It's odd.
Did you know that sticky rice was used in some parts of The Great Wall to keep the bricks together? I didn't. 50% of the people who built the wall died in the process. It's also known as the great grave site.