Since the workshop does not officially start until tomorrow, we had today to recover from jet lag and do some site seeing. The first part of our journey brought us to the Badaling Great Wall, which is one of the best-restored sections of the wall. It was built during the Ming Dynasty (1300s-1600s) in the valley of two mountains. Our tour guide Janet explained that one is not a man until he climbs the Great Wall. Once you climb it you are considered a hero, and for a few rmb (Chinese money) you can buy a certificate that says so. I preferred photographic evidence of my heroism.
Though it is still winter in Beijing, not everyone was prepared for the snowfall that greeted us when we got to the Wall. Choice of footwear didn’t stop many from climbing, though. I saw lot of sneakers and a few high-heeled boots. For the most part it wasn’t too treacherous, but I have to admit that on the way down there was one part where I decided to take control of my slipping and sliding. Sitting on my bottom I had a nice slide down, and entertained many of the other tourists in the process.
After lunch we continued on our journey to the Ming Tombs. It is here that 13 of the 16 Ming Emperors are buried. Janet said that the Tombs have the best feng shui, as their location has both wind from the mountains and water from the river: ying and yang. Good feng shui brings luck, and visiting the tombs would bring us luck. We walked through an outer courtyard full of trees and gateways leading to the mound. We went underground and walked through massive marble doors to a series of connecting vaults. Here emperor Wanli and two empresses are buried and have thrones.
Our visit ended with the best find of the day- panda hats. Seeing them at the Wall and again at the Tomb, it was just too much for Laura, Ari and Bob to pass up. The rest of us were jealous and now have panda hat envy.
We finished our journey driving through the Olympic Village, and then made our way to dinner at Quanjude. A full day of exercise, food, amazing sites, heroism, and luck- I think we will all sleep well tonight.