- 8/30/2007 11:21 PM ET
Again...what an adventure! And putting this journal of your trip together has been quite an undertaking. Got writer's cramps yet? :)
THE GREAT WALL
Although I was in denial about having jet lag I woke up at four am. I didn‘t want to bother Dave so I went to the lobby to read my travel book and make plans for sightseeing. Dave followed around five am. We went back to the room took our showers called Kilah around seven am and had an early breakfast.
Kilah, Dave, Judah and I went back to the mall to go shopping that morning. Jesse was taking us all to the Great Wall later in the day. I got my Chinese Barbie style doll for Chloe and some other souvenirs to take home. For lunch there was a food court in the basement. I found an ice cream place called Roma Ice Cream, which I assumed, was Romanian ice cream. It was the most delicious ice cream I ever had. I ordered a waffle cone and they let me chose five different flavors. That was my lunch. I met up with Kilah Judah and Dave at Kentucky Fried Chicken.
When we got back to the hotel I called Jesse and asked when he was coming. I also asked him if he got his money.
He said, “What money?” I started to panic.
“I left one thousand dollars in travelers checks by the gifts.”
“I never saw it. You’re supposed to hand the money to me.”
“Kilah also lift fifty American dollars in Yuan for you too. They were in red envelopes. Call the restaurant and see if they are there.”
He called the restaurant and the money was not there. He called me back to tell me. I was in a panic. I knew I could replace the traveler’s checks, but not Kilah’s money. I would do that on my own. I looked for a number for China to replace the traveler’s checks and there was none. I called the number under “other” and got no answer. It was a Sunday, which probably complicated things further. Meanwhile Iris went to her car to see if the money was there with the gifts. Jesse called back and said they found the money. I was so relieved.
Jesse came with a driver and a van and Iris and her car to take us to the Great Wall. I rode with Iris, Dave, Judah, Andora and the aunt who helps to take care of her, Chen Chen. I rode in the back with Judah, Andora and Chen Chen. I decided to make Chen Chen my good friend since she had the relationship I wish I had with Andora. I told Iris to tell her I was so glad that Andora had Chen Chen to love her and take such good care of her. Chen Chen was glad to share Andora with me after that. Judah was also having a good time making Andora laugh.
As we approached the Great Wall I was in awe. Pictures and description do not do it justice. I have not seen any real mountains before and I asked Dave if that was what the Rocky Mountains were like. He said no, they were much larger. These were like jagged rocks covered with trees. The wall snaked along the top. We got out to the parking lot and there were some shops and people approaching us as usual trying to make a sale. I did buy a straw hat, the kind you see pheasants wearing in the fields. Iris got a good price for me, only one fifty, in American dollars.
It was a short walk from the parking lot to the wall. From the wall the view was incredible. The wall stretched out to what seemed to be infinity. It was an uphill climb all the way. I went up about half way to the tallest peak in our section. The younger ones of our group went all the way. Dave plodded along as far as he could go which was not very far. I was glad that we went later in the afternoon. We missed the noonday sun although it was still hot. When I got to the end of my hike there was a hut selling souvenirs and my Coca Cola. I chugged it down with relief. I wished I had a video camera to film it and send to the Coke Company. It would make a great advertisement, me drinking my coke on the great wall and on the mountains in the background the sign for the Olympics “One World One Dream”.
The sun was starting to go down as I descended the wall. Chen Chen had Andora out of her diapers. Most babies do not wear diapers in China according to my son. Andora does but I think Chen Chen puts them on her just for my son. Iris said in China they look for cues from the baby and put them over the toilet at certain times. I asked her doesn’t she have accidents and Iris said yes and that’s why Jesse won’t hold Andora unless she had a diaper on. I was laughing when I saw Andora out of her diapers and Chen Chen pointed to the leg of her pants, which were wet. Some things you don’t need language to communicate with. I picked up Andora bare butt and all and told Dave to snap a picture of her. Then I quickly returned Andora to Chen Chen before she had an accident on me.
Dave and I sat on a ledge waiting for the others in our group and an older woman approached us with the usual post cards and books for sale. I kept telling her no and showing her our camera to show her we didn’t need them. She was very persistent and friendly. Finally I said, “OK, I like you,” and bought a post card from her. She still tried to sell me more but I pointed to some people coming down and motioned for her to try to sell to them so she left.
Dave and I sat there enjoying watching the sun start to set when the wind started blowing hard. A storm was coming and people were hurrying down the wall. The old woman pointed to the clouds and motioned for us to leave as she was running down. A few raindrops started to fall and there was some lightning in the distance. I was really enjoying it. We decided to continue to wait for our group while watching the storm come. They came down soon and we got into our cars just before the storm broke.
Jesse had decided tonight was the night for us to try Peeking Duck. We drove to a restaurant outside of Beijing. Iris and Jesse found a waitress and started ordering all kinds of food and did ask if there was anything we would like. In China it is customary for many dishes to be ordered and shared in the group. Our table had a lazy Susan in the middle where all the food was put and then would be spun around for everyone to sample everything. I asked if they could order some chicken and pork. We had quite an assortment of food and a room to ourselves. I tried the Peeking Duck and didn’t really care for it. The chicken was delicious only it came with the head attached. The pork was too spicy. I also had rice with my chicken. Dave as usual hardly ate anything.
I had to go to the bathroom again. It had been a long day. It was another hole in the floor. The bathroom was clean and I had no choice but to use it. I struggled again to squat and luckily didn’t fall down.
We got back to our hotel quite late and went right to bed. It had been a long and wonderful day.
Tips from a weary traveler:
Never leave money unattended
Go to the Great Wall in the late afternoon. It is not as hot and the sunset is beautiful.
Jet lag will catch up with you sooner or later
Don’t be a cheapskate. Buy a little from the locals they really need the money.
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