Our first stop was the jade factory. We had an interesting seminar on jade. Unlike Barry, Cole, Steve and Carol, I managed to forego the temptation to buy. For me the highlight of this stop was getting a great picture with the Terracotta Warriors. Not the real ones; those are in Xian. Out to the side of the factory they had an army of terracotta warrior replicas. Next thing I know, seven of us were all posed amongst them except for John who was already on the bus. After much yelling and calling from the group, he finally emerged from the bus and completed our group portrait.
We were only supposed to be at the jade factory for forty minutes but two hours later we were still waiting for straggling shoppers to come out. Wendy was saying that we would only have 1.5 hours at the Great Wall of China. That didn’t make us happy so after much insistence, we were given over 2 hours, which worked out well.
Expecting it to be freezing on the Great Wall, I managed to negotiate with one of the parking lot vendors for a white Mongolian style hat. I got her down to the equivalent of $6 Canadian.
Our tour took us to a very steep North section of the wall.
The Great Wall did not disappoint. However, there was a hell of a lot of stairs to get up and just when you think you’ve reached the watch tower at the top, you realize that there is another long flight leading up to the next watch tower. I think we passed five or six towers before reaching the top... or a least the top of the section of the wall where we were.
The wall is huge. There are over 5,000 km of the Great Wall and Wendy told us that during the Ming dynasty period there was well over 6,700 km of wall.
And the steps were uneven, of course. Some would be low, only 10cm and other ones up to a half metre high. Climbing was hard work. I feared my legs would be screaming the next morning.
With a lot of expended energy and sheer determination, we all made it to the top...some quicker than others.
What a high! And the views (despite the haze), were amazing.
Steve and I were the last to the bottom. The stairs did not do any favours to Steve’s already damaged knees. My iphone pedometer said that I had done over 4,900 steps.
From the Wall we went to a restaurant for lunch and then headed to the Chinese Medicine Centre. They brought in tubs of water (lined with plastic) for us to soak our feet. Then people came in and massaged our feet. Once we were all relaxed, the Chinese medical doctors came in and gave us a brief examination and enlightened us about our personal health issues. Suddenly we weren’t so relaxed. I must admit I ended up paying $170 Canadian for a month’s worth of secret herbal medicine. For that price there better be gold in those pills. However, we did get free foot massages out of it.
Back on the bus, it was over an hour before we reached our hotel...which was just enough time for my lower body to seize up. I really need to exercise more.
Since we had to get up at 4am in the morning to catch an early flight, I soaked my aching muscles in the shower, packed and hit the hay.