April 17, 2011
Posted by Joan V. Gallos
This morning is our trip to the Great Wall. It is indeed a wonder of the world!
We travel about an hour by bus to Mutianyu for entrance – with good views of the outer rings of Beijing and the countryside as we go. It’s farther from Beijing than other access points, but I think the Wall is less crowded and less touristy here.
I also love the cable car to the top which makes the full Wall and its views accessible for anyone who can’t (or prefers not to) climb. Students enjoy the Chinese equivalent of an alpine slide down one steep segment of the Wall. I prefer my toboggan on snow and without someone, sitting on a little metal disk, coming down fast behind me.
We lunch after a few hours at the Wall at a small local restaurant in the town, interestingly named the School House Restaurant, and then head back to Beijing for a free afternoon that everyone has earned.
Those interested can join me on an informal shopping trip to the Pearl Market. We’ll see pearls, pearls, and more pearls in little shop after shop after shop on floors and floors of the market – and everything else Chinese for sale that you could imagine: silks, scarves, purses, luggage, toys, clothing, fabrics, electronics, linens, tableware, teapots, souvenirs of all kind, and more. Prices are great for those willing to haggle because there’s so much obvious competition. Talk about market economics in action.
The evening – and the residency – ends with a huge farewell Tibetan banquet, complete with dancing, passing of the white scarves, ethnic entertainment (with a contemporary twist), and a carefully-selected range of interesting Tibetan dishes.
Few will have eaten any of these delicacies, but there will be plenty for even the non-adventurous. But at this point in the trip, the non-adventurous are fewer in number than when we arrived. Yak butter tea, anyone?