Really, it was great. Probably my favorite thing we saw/did in Beijing, maybe all of the China (besides being with Crystal and Aaron).
First of all, getting there was...an experience all its own. We hired a private driver so we could go to a less crowded spot and it was cheaper. But it must first be said that to the Chinese, traffic laws are mere suggestions. Especially if you are paying for the ride it seems. This guy was insane! For instance, we were at the end of a long line of four lanes of cars waiting at a stoplight. He pulled over to the shoulder, drove a long for some distance, then merged over all four lanes into the left turn lane and cut his way in there. It was nuts. But the most terrifying was when we were nearly hit by a shower of bricks. We were in a little village on our way to the wall and there was a motorcycle pulling cart coming towards us with a truck full of bricks behind him. The truck driver decided to try and pass the motorcycle and swerve back into his lane before hitting us. Unfortunately his bricks were not secured. Our driver served to avoid the small avalanche of bricks that fell off and then stopped to check out any damage. We were mere inches from being hit, but luckily the car wasn't even scratched. Thank goodness for prayer! The thing that cracked me up the most was that the car behind us, who must have witnessed the whole event, started honking his horn in impatience while our driver checked to make sure everything was okay. Welcome to Chinese driving.
We had experienced some "paparazzi" while in China, but this beat all. The Chinese were obsessed with taking pictures of Ellie (so are we, so who are we to blame them). There was a large group of Chinese tourists just before we were about to get on the wall, and they all wanted to take their picture with Ellie, who happened to be strapped onto Ben. So they lined up and started clicking away. It was hysterical.
Even Crystal and I had our faces photographed a few times. We're just cool like that.
Anyway, the wall. It's funny, in some ways it is smaller and yet bigger than you imagine. It's not terribly wide, probably only 10 feet wide. But you could see it stretching off in the distance in both directions for miles, roaming over the tops of the mountains. It was incredible. Pictures will do better justice. Here you go.
(This is one of my favorite shots from the entire trip. Maybe someday she can use it in her 5th grade country report)
Ben and Ellie firing cannons. Though Ben pointed out that it isn't a very good strategic advantage to have an immobile cannon. But let's be honest, the Great Wall didn't really do any of what it was supposed to do.
You can see that the wall is on top of the mountain. To get to it, we took a cable car up, and when it was time to come down (we hiked about a mile of it), we took the ski lift down. As we were preparing to get on, we made sure to read the "Visitops Rules"
|Click on the picture to enlarge it so you can read the rules in all their glory! Our favorites were #3 and #4. Also we cheated a bit and didn't tell them that I was 13 weeks pregnant. Not that we could have communicated that anyway.|