Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 12, 2011

Today was a busy, but incredible day! Just imagine, the Great Wall of China, the Olympic Village, a Hutong tour, and shopping at the Silk Market - all in one day!

Magnificent, regal, and breathtaking best describes our trek along the Great Wall. Although most of the Wall was built during the Ming Dynasty, construction began almost 2000 years ago during the Qin Dynasty as a means of protecting all of China from intruders. Nearly one million laborers built the wall, with 500,000 of them perishing in the process. Those who did not survive are recognized today as national heroes.

We began our journey at the Mutianyu section of the Wall where we rode a gondola to Watchtower 14, one of 23 watchtowers located along this section. Looking up from the base of Watchtower 14, it was hard to believe that the majority of us would make it to Watchtower 22 or 23. After achieving our goal it was incredibly hard to resist buying the I CLIMBED THE GREAT WALL t-shirts being sold by local vendors!

After a relaxing lunch we stopped at the Olympic Village where we were able to take pictures of the various 2008 Olympic buildings. Upon the first glimpse of Birds Nest my memory immediately went back to the grandeur and celebration of the 2008 Opening Ceremony!

Later in the afternoon we toured a protected Hutong village - on a rickshaw! Originally home to Imperial families, each Hutong consists of a small courtyard surrounded by four buildings. According to feng shui, the location of each building is very important in living a happy and harmonious life. The north or master building is the home of the grandparents and parents. The kitchen is located in the south building. The sons live in the east building and the daughters live in the west building. We thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse into the simple and practical lives of the village people.

After a delicious dinner at a local noodle house known as one of "the most famous" noodle houses in Beijing, several of us ventured downtown to the Silk Market where we truly were in bargain-shopper's paradise. Imagine - four floors of discounted clothing, artwork, silk, and jewelry! It's here that several of us learned the fine art of bargaining!

inside noodle house

noodle house
Rickshaw driver

Touring the Huntong Village in a Rickshaw!

Great Wall

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