Our second day in China was a full one. We started the day with a walking tour through Beijing’s Olympic Village. You might remember pictures of the Water Cube, where Michael Phelps won a record-breaking eight gold medals
or the Bird’s Nest where the spectacular Opening and Closing ceremonies were held. The 2020 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, putting these grand public buildings back to use.
You might have noticed from the pictures that it’s very cold in Beijing. We are in the northern part of China and winter is setting in. The daily temperatures have been in the 30s, making it very crisp. Today there was a strong wind as well.
We are prepared though. Thank goodness we have our heavy jackets from our trip to Antarctica earlier this year. Plus, we are expecting warmer temps once we head south to Shanghai in a few days.
Our second stop today was at a government sponsored jade factory. We saw the craftsman turning hunks of the rock into beautiful works of art, furniture, and jewelry. Of course, after the tour we were led into a large showroom where we were given the opportunity to buy and buy and buy. Some of the people in our group bought things, but we just looked, drank some tea, and enjoyed being inside in the warmth. Shopping stops like this are common on these tours to China. In the coming days we’ll have stops at other government-run places where we’ll have the “opportunity” to spend. It’s kind of the price you pay…
Following an okay lunch at the jade factory we headed to the big attraction of the day: the Great Wall. We visited a section of the wall about 35 miles outside of Beijing called Badaling.
This portion of the wall goes up and over a mountain pass, which means it was a very steep climb. One archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measure out to be 21,196 km (13,171 mi). We just went up about less than a mile. Steve did a little more, for the workout.Construction on the Great Wall began in 7th Century BC. The majority of it was built and maintained by the Ming dynasty in the 1300-1600 timeframe. It’s considered one of the world’s great architectural feats. Even so, our guide Michael shared that it has not always been effective in keeping out invaders. We’re sure there are lessons to be learned here.
Our final event today was a Peking duck dinner. After course after course of chicken, pork, and vegetable dishes, we were presented with the roast duck, along with thin pancakes and buns with which to eat it. Yum! The meal was punctuated with Great Wall wine and unlimited beer. It’s seems the Chinese aren’t very good at wine-making but they cook a mean duck.