Mutianyu Great Wall and Olympics tour

Trip Start Jun 16, 2008
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Trip End Jul 20, 2008


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Flag of China  , Beijing,
Saturday, June 21, 2008

I was picked upat 7:20AM today and had one guy, A.J., from Toronto and two women from Germany joining me.  We began the day with a 2 hour drive to the Mutianyu Great Wall.  The drive was great because it went through numerous small towns and farms that provided great scenary.  The absolute best part of the day was the weather!!!  Today was the very first time in Beijing that I actually saw BLUE sky and it was actually all blue today!!!  Therefore the drive afforded me views of the mountains.

Finally we made it to Mutianyu Great Wall.  It is located in Huairou County about 45 miles from Beijing, Mutianyu Great Wall enjoys a long history and is part of the glorious culture of China. It connects  Juyongguan Pass in the west and Gubeikou Great Wall in the east. The wall was first built in Northern Qi Dynasty (550 - 557). In Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), Tan Lun and Qi Jiguang, two famous patriotic generals, rebuilt it in order to strengthen its defensive potential when they guarded the strategic pass. It served as the northern protective screen, guarding the capital and imperial mausoleums for generations. Mutianyu Great Wall winds 1.4 miles through lofty mountains and high ridges, many sections of which are made of granite. The unique structure makes the wall almost indestructible. It measures 23 to 26 feet high and four to five yards wide. Both of the wall's inner and outer sides have parapets to defend against enemies coming from the two sides. Some parapets are saw- tooth shaped instead of the regular rectangular form. Below the parapets, there are square embrasures the top of which are designed in an arc structure, different from the traditional round embrasures. There are 22 watch towers distributed at close intervals along the wall. They are located not only in the main wall but also at the distinctive 'branch cities'. Branch cities are built on the hill ridge against the inner or outer side of the wall. They measure from several yards to dozens of yards across.











I am so happy that I made a second trip to the Great Wall as this section was more breath-taking, rewarding, scenic and exciting tham the Badaling section.  The fact that the weather was clear today allowed me to see the Wall snake up and over the mountains for miles in both directions.












To reach the top of the Wall I took a lift just like the ones used at ski resorts.  Once I was on top it was just amazing!  I walked for miles climbing up and down and passing through watch towers.  The biggest difference at thissection of the Wall is that at Badaling it was basically just a straight run up one side of the mountain. However, here it was like a LONG LONG road; although it was never level as it went down and up.

Going down the wall was an experience too!  There was a small "tobaggan" car that I rode dowm a track all the way to the bottom.  At the bottom I celebrated and quenched my thirst with a beer.  Then I walked through the market.  One lady told me a shirt wasonly $1 and had me follow her into her tent store.  Once inside therte was only a narrow passage out that was half as wide as my body!  Here she informed me that the shirt I wanted was not $1 because it was made of cotton.  She wanted me to know how amazing cotton wasincase I had never seen a cotton shirt before.  So now I tried to leave.  I had to contort my body to escape through the narrow passage all the while having her dragme back by my arm. I finally made it back to the street with her still clutching my arm! 










On the driveback to Beijing we stopped for a delicious traditional lunch.  Then we drove through the Olympic area and passed the Bird's Nest which will be the place for the opening ceremonies. It was designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, global engineering consultant ARUP and China Architecture Design and Research Group, the National Stadium is located on the North Fourth Ring Road in Beijing. The main body of the stadium is composed of 24 columns of trusses, which surround the bowl-shaped stands in the stadium. The structural elements support each other and converge into a grid formation, just like a bird's nest with interlocking branches and twigs. Construction started in December 2003 and the concrete work of the main stand was completed on November 15 last year. On August 31, the steel skeleton was welded together.  The steel skeleton weighs 42,000 tons and can now bear a load of 11,200 tons of the roof and hanging parts. With a seating capacity of 91,000, the National Stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies, track and field competitions and football finals during the Games. The seat number will be reduced to 80,000 after the Games, when it will be used for large-scale sports events, conventional competitions and non-competition events. The national landmark will offer wide-ranging entertainment and sporting facilities to residents after the Games.

Although we could not stop close or go inside we did get to see part of the Olympic village.  We visited a health area for the athletes and here I received an amazing 20 mimute foot and calf massage like nothing I had ever experienced before.  He whacked, pounded and manipulated my legs but after it felt great.

Then we stopped at Dr. Tea in the village.We sampled and learned about four types of tea.

The tour ended at 5:30PM and at 7PM I took a walk down Wangfujing Street again.  I went back to the back-alley market to buy some more tea cups as souvenirs. The price of each was 285 RMB but I wuickly talked her all the way down to 10 RMB each!!  I bought three at that price and also a Terracotta soldier.

On the way back to the hotel I stopped at a restaurant for chicken and vegetables in a wok.
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