From Dalian to Xi’an and Beijing (Day 4)
The second day in Beijing started off with a trip to the Great Wall. It’s definitely peak tourist season. The wall was completed packed. Our tour guide commented on how it was actually a great wall of people.
Choosing the least crowded direction, I worked my way up the stairs and inclines of the wall. The views were pretty amazing. However, some sections of the wall were incredibly step and didn’t have any stairs. Even on a hot, dry day people were slipping. I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to navigate the structures in the rain or snow.
Although I’m very familiar with the phrase “It’s a small world”, I actually experienced just how small of a world it really is at the wall. I was going up the wall one direction when I encountered some Americans going down the wall. These people weren’t just Americans, they were Iowans. Wait, it gets even better. These Iowans also happened to live in Cedar Falls AND were students at UNI. What are the odds of that? I don’t recall all of the details, but they were in China for weightlifting and should be back home sometime this week.
After the Great Wall, we went to the Ming Tombs. The tomb that we had the opportunity to enter was 20+ meters below ground and very damp. Although the structure was impressive since it was so far below ground, it was pretty plain. The walls weren’t decorated at all and there were side chambers that were entirely empty. Apparently most things rotted quickly once the tomb was unearthed and open to the fresh air.
The evening was spent at the hotel watching some kind of traditional Chinese theater. The singing portions were horrid. The actress’ voice was so high pitch that it hurt my ears. Fortunately, that was only a smaller portion of the show. Before and after the singing, fight scenes took place. These scenes involved a mix of martial arts and tumbling. The physical abilities displayed were impressive.
Once the show was over, a few people wanted to get some authentic Beijing hot pot. I was full from an earlier meal and didn’t partake in the late evening dinning, but still tagged along. One of the hotel staff suggested a close by place that took us down some dark, unlit alleyways. Eventually, we did make it to the restaurant. Like the alley it was on, the restaurant was dirty and normally the kind of place that I wouldn’t even have glanced at.
The interesting thing about the hot pot here was that a metallic tube rose up out of the water and inside sat a piece of coal. The top of the tube could be opened or closed to control the temperature. The service was good, but that could have been because we were the only customers. Overall, a fun experience.