Saturday, we are now off to see the Great Wall, one of the main reasons I wanted to come to China. The traffic is horrendous, and we are queuing for miles. The traffic weaves in and out of lanes. We haven’t seen any accidents as yet, but everyone seem to be on the dodgems.
When they had the Olympics here in 2008, the cars that finished in an odd number could only use their cars on an uneven date. Likewise for the even numbers. It meant you only used your car every other day. After the games were over they then split the days Monday to Friday, so you had one day when you couldn’t use your car. They choose an odd and an even number each day. Say it’s 2 and 7 on a Monday and 4 and 9 on a Tuesday etc. Every 3 months they change the days around again. On a weekend there are no restrictions which is why the roads were so crowded on this particular day.
We stopped off at a Jade gallery for an insight into how they make items from Jade. There were some lions made from Jade. The female is depicted with her left foot on a baby lion, and the male has a ball under his right foot. I saw a chart of the 12 different Chinese years. They often come up in quizzes so I thought you might be interested. The order is mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, chicken, dog and pig. This year is the year of the snake.
We arrived at the Great Wall at Badaling around 12pm. The Wall was built between the 5th century BC and the 16th century AD. It was originally built to keep out barbarian invaders from the north and stretches 3658 miles from the Bohai Gulf to Jiayuguan in the mountains of Gansu Province. At the time of the Ming Dynasty they paid great attention to the care of the Wall. Today much of the Wall in the northeast of China dates back to that period. The Manchu tribes who overthrew the Mings poured through an opening in the Wall at its eastern point in 1644 when the Ming general Wu Sagui defected to the Manchu side leaving the Shanhai Pass unguarded. Although most of the Wall is in ruins some sections have been repaired in recent years.
Where we were (in Badaling and at Mutianyu), these are the most popular and most crowded sections of the Wall. The spectacle was absolutely amazing. It was all I imagined it would be. A beautiful clear day, hot and a joy to be there. We gave ourselves 2 hours to climb. The temperature was around 35c and a clear blue sky. There are 2 ways you can go. The VIP route to the right which was busier but not so steep, or the steeper route to the left. Four of us went for the steeper route.
Peter was off like a mountain goat. He managed to get to the top tower that we could see from the base. That was 4 towers I think. Jeanette went just past one tower and then had to turn back. Sally and I went on to just before the 2nd tower. It was very steep in places, and the hand rails were too low to be of any practical support. We kept stopping to have water. We were up on the Wall for about 55 minutes and came back and had a glass of tea in the cafe.
It’s another experience I won’t forget and can tick another ‘must do’ off the bucket list!
The magnificent Terracotta Warriors
On Sunday we flew to Xi’an. At the airport they took my sun tan lotion! I’d forgotten to pack it in my suitcase after using it the day before.
We arrived in Xi’an at 12.30 and after lunch at the airport we went to see the Wild Goose Pagoda. This was built in 652AD to store the scriptures brought back from India by Xuan Zang. Xi’an means ‘peaceful’. After this we went to walk on the city wall. It is a wonderful example of architecture. It’s the only complete one left in China. It dates back to the 14th century Ming Dynasty. The wall is wide enough for 7 carriages and is rectangular in shape. There is an outer wall as well, so if any intruders get through the first gate then the archers will fire at them from the inner wall.
Xi’an was also the start of the Silk Road, the route taken for silk and other products to travel west to Iraq, Iran, the Mediterranean, and up to Rome and Venice. It became a popular trading route in both directions.
On Monday we left at 08.30 to go and see the second ‘must do’ on this tour and visit the Terracotta Warriors. The Terracotta museum is on the east side of the first emperor’s (Qin Shiuang) mausoleum. There are 3 main buildings named Pit 1, Pit 2 and Pit 3. They were built on the original site of the pits at different times. In 1974 local farmers of Xi Yang village were drilling a series of wells in search of water. They found some fragments of pottery and ancient bronze weapons. The 3 pits were unearthed in 1976. Pit 1 opened to the public in 1979, by which time they had 1087 warriors and horses displayed after renovation. Pit 3 opened in 1989 and Pit 2 in 1994 while still being excavated.
The spectacle of actually seeing them is both incredible and moving. They have 2000 warriors, horses now in Pit 1 and it is assumed that more than 6000 warriors, horses and 50 chariots were buried in Pit 1.
There are only 3 of the original 6 farmers alive who found the warriors. One of them was in the shop and has signed my copy of the book about the Warriors.
All in all it was well worth coming all this way to see the Wall and the Warriors. If anyone has the chance to come then you should take it.
When we got back to the hotel, I thought I would go and see if I could find the tennis courts that are advertised in all the hotels we’ve stayed at so far. it showed they were on the 3rd floor. When I got up there I had a look round and couldn’t see them. I asked an attendant and he said they were TABLE tennis tables! I even brought my bandage supports just in case I could get a game of tennis!!!
Well I think that’s more than enough for you all at present!
Until next time…
Paul & Sally