The Sound of Merriment!

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Just woke up to the sound of drunken merriment by 5 or 6 Americans.

They’re a bunch of English teachers from Seoul taking the holidays in China.

They’d brought a bottle of Maker’s Mark with them from the Inchon International Airport and gave me the honor of the last swig.

I had earlier been searching the liquor stores all over Beijing for a bottle and was disappointed to find none.  Not that I expected to find it here.

But some young Americans saved me.

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The Great Wall of China

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Just finished it.  Climbed the Great Wall at Jinahanling and Simitai.

We awakened at O’dark thirty (0500).  I know that’s difficult for some to believe.  Our driver arrived at about 0620 to pick us up from our Hostel–City Walls.  We met up with another group and switched buses.  Then we were off.  It’s about a 3 hour drive out to Jinshanling.  We arrived a bit before 10 AM.  When we got off the bus, it was C O L D!  The wind was blowing hard.  I thought to myself; “Dave, was this a mistake.  You are cold already and you’re only ten seconds off the bus. ”  Time to suck it up.  Poor little Unny was vibrating.  She was shivering so hard.

We walked up to the entrance and gave them our tickets.  Then we started our climb.  Immediately, it’s a grueling climb.  Stairs and pathways and causeways that are half ruin.  Climbing straight up at almost 90 degree angles at some points.  We took the first rise and were met by an amazing site.  The wall stretching off into the horizon.  On one side is inner Mongolia, the other side is China proper.  China now claims inner Mongolia as her own.  Only outer Mongolia is part of the nation.

It was hell and exhilarating.   It was cold and windy.   The temp was around 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit.  Even so, by the time we were finished I had sweated through two layers of shirts and made all of my electronics (iPhone and iPod) soaking wet.

I decided to make this my birthday present.  To climb that portion of the great wall.  It’s about a 10 kilometer hike up and down some serious mountains and hills.  At one point, I thought that maybe I should just lay down and let them bury me with the peasants who had been buried under the wall as it was being built, but, Unny kept going.  So I followed her lead.

She’s a tough little gal.  It was her first experience in the cold.  She toughed it out.  Impressive.

There are several sections of the Great Wall.  The most famous being Badaling.  Badaling is where all of the tourists go to see the wall.  If you want to see it in various states or disrepair or a more authentic part of the Great Wall, you have to get out of Beijing and hit Mutianyu or Simitai or Jinshanling.  I’d done the Badaling thing back in ’06.  This time, I wanted to see the “real” Great Wall.

I froze up there and I think my legs are going to fall off in the morning but it was well worth it.

I tried to call my Momma but no service out there in the wilds.

It was a great birthday present and as is my habit, I took hundreds of pictures.

What a cool day. I loved it.  I am happy as can be with this day.

Simitai