Today, Nick and I went to the Great Wall, which is, of course, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the most popular Wonders of the World. We were picked up for the drive to Beijing by Liang. Once in Beijing, William, our guide at The Summer Palace and Tienanmen Square, met us, along with his wife. They drove us to the Great Wall.
William’s wife, Lisa, is a nurse. She said that this was her first visit to the Great Wall! William has invited her to accompany him many times, but this was the first time she accepted his invitation. I hadn’t realized that the Great Wall was about two hours away. During the drive, the view changed from the huge city, through the countryside, to the mountains. The ride through the country reminded Nick of driving through the countryside of Italy or France where there are aqueducts like this one.
Before we reached the Wall, we asked William if we could stop for food, because we had not had dinner or breakfast. He immediately brought us to a restaurant that served what he called “country food.” We would describe it as “comfort food.” There was a buffet, from which I chose chicken legs, tofu, and a salad. It was not fancy, but it was just what I needed. There was ice cream for dessert. The flavor Lisa chose was cappuccino. I was hoping to find my favorite flavor, ginger, but I was disappointed when William told me he had never seen ginger ice cream anywhere in China.
After William parked his van, we walked to the ticket booth. From there, we walked up many hills and steps. Then, we took a shuttle bus, and next, a cable car. The entrance to the wall was just a few steps ahead of us.
Construction of small walls in this area of China began in the 7th century BC to protect the locals from invaders. As time passed, the small walls were joined together. The Great Wall has been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced through the centuries since then. Watch towers, troop barracks, and garrison stations were added. That’s the history of the Great Wall. How would I describe it? Simply put, the Great Wall is magnificent!!! I have seen photos of it many times, but I didn’t expect it to be so extensive, so complex, so breathtaking! The part of the wall that is under your feet goes uphill and downhill continuously. It is never level. If an invader managed to get high enough, the military protectors would pelt him with bricks that were stacked there for just that purpose. If anyone actually got over the wall, he would become disoriented to find that the ground beneath his feet was not level. I want to express my gratitude to Lisa, who held my arm continuously as we walked, to keep me from falling. After every few steps you take, you have to turn around to absorb its magnificence, not only ahead of you, but behind you. William kept asking us when we wanted to go back, but Nick replied, “Let’s keep going!”
Later that day when we returned to Beijing, William and Lisa asked us if we had ever been to a hotpot restaurant. We had never heard that term. They took us to such a restaurant inside a multistory shopping mall. Before we got to the restaurant, we saw that all the free space in the mall was dedicated to family entertainment.
At the restaurant, the center of the table has a hole in which there’s an insert over a heat source that’s divided into four parts. Each part contained a different kind of broth, from mild to spicy. Diners cook the food themselves by keeping it submerged in the hot broth, twenty seconds for very thin slices of lamb, beef, shrimp and vegetables, and two minutes for noodles. I’m sure you have seen someone making pizza crust by tossing it into the air. Here we had a similar experience Chinese style: a chef came over and showed us how he makes noodles by tossing strands of dough in the air.
After dinner, we thanked our lovely companions. Liang picked us up and drove us back to Gu’an. We fell asleep at 8 PM. after marveling at the fantastic day we had just spent.