Day 17 Great Wall, Ming Tombs
TGIF in China! Well, I think I've worked off all the duck that I stuffed myself with last night today. :)
Got up early today for the drive to the Great Wall as our guide said that traffic on Fridays were murder in Beijing. My aunt had signed up for the Mitianyu section of the wall as that was said to be the best/most scenic of the three open wall segments. They day was nice and clear, and it was actually quite balmy even up on the wall, so the twins ended up shedding their coat and I ended up shedding both my sweater and my jacket - thus wearing only two layers - by the end of our hike up. Of course, we'd hiked a great amount of the way westwards on the wall, nearly to where the end of the way of the walkable segment...taking pictures all the way of course. We only stopped before the last great incline since we were running out of time (we'd already agreed to skip lunch).
The twins had a great time running up and down the wall like maniacs, when they weren't being pressed into photos. They must have run twice or three times the distance the rest of us had walked, and the rest of us walked 1.5 hours roundtrip. But all in all, I didn't mind the hike, and it was much more fun with the girls there to imbue excitement into every little thing and explore every little cranny in the Wall. ^^
On the way down in the cable cars (to get to the hiking part of the wall in that section, you had to take cable cars up/down), we were rather surprised to see the inscription on the glass informing us that this was the same car as used by Ex-Prez Clinton when he came to China years ago! I know my aunt mentioned that she'd researched that this place had been visited by Clinton, but it was some stroke of luck to land us in the same car! I even got a pic (cuz it didn't happen if there's no proof, ne?):
After the Wall, we drove over to the Ming Tombs. Took a gander around the front hall/museum at the info on Emperor Yong Le of the Ming. Then drove over to the sacred way where the twins did their level best to mount all of the stone animals that they could climb on top of. Needless to say - I got lotsa pictures (which will have to wait for when I get back to the US to upload them all).
The drive back to our hotel took about 2 hours, showing us ample proof of just how bad the traffic was on Fridays in Beijing. By the time we got back, it was dark and the city was lit up with lights strung over the streets. Since those lights weren't there the previous nights, I can only assume the city does a little extra on weekend nights to celebrate not having to go to work in the morning. :P
After the long day (with no lunch), I was pretty starved by the time we got back. We had dinner at a muslim hot pot place (东来顺 - such a typical name). It was better than the hot pot we had in Pingyao - no surprise, it was more expensive too - and we managed to polish off a set hot pot dinner meant for 5 adults. What can I say? The girls LOVE lamb/mutton, which can't be said for many of the Chinese foods we been trying to get them to try on this trip. I liked the soup that was left afterward, so it was all good.
Tomorrow is the summer palace, as well as quick drive-by of the Olympic buildings for some pictures. That's the last day of our arranged tours. The last two days have been left free for us to arrange as we wish. I know I want to do the 王府井 pedestrian street on one of them, both for checking out some of the book/video stores and for the food. Another possibility are the various museums in town. My aunt also mentioned the temple to Confucius and something about Llama/tantric Buddhism... er... we'll see, I guess.