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Saturday, October 26th, 2002

Beijing, Sunny - Max: 9, Min: 1, Avg: 4

Today was the day! The day were were going to visit the Great Wall. We missed out on it last time, so we had great expectations. We always think of it as one wall, but in fact the 6400km long wall was built during different dynasties, to stop barbarians from the north attacking China. The best preserved parts of the wall were built during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), in order to prepare for an expected invasion from the Mongolian general Xu Da. This wall was built further south than the original wall during the Qin and Han dynasties. The Ming wall was generally built of stone, which was more durable than the stamped earth that was used on the earlier walls. The average height of the Ming wall is roughly 8 meters, and its average width is 7 meters at the bottom and 6 meters at the top.

Yanmei and Lene on the the way up the Great Wall

.. and we go on up!

Yanmei and Steven go even futher - the red 'blob' a quarter up the picture is Lene

We drove to the section of the wall that is closest to Beijing, at Badaling. Badaling means "in every direction", and it got its name due to this portion of the walls strategic position in a valley surrounded by mountains in all directions. We drove past a half built amusement park that had run out of money (so there are limits to the money supply, even in China!). The Wall really is an unbelievable sight as you see it stretch into the horizon. Yanmei loved walking (or more often being carried) up the steps, and managed to go further than anybody else in the group. Saturday certainly wasn't the best day to make the trip, as the wall was packed with Chinese and foreign tourists (Helle met somebody she worked with - what a coincidence). We only had an hour, and I suppose unless you're thinking of going on a longer expedition, an hour is enough - it's pretty tiring walking up all those steps - and hard walking down again. It was well worth the visit, and now we can say that we’ve walked on the wall!  

Yanmei under an arch in one of the buildings on the way up

A watch post - with a great view

A pavillion near the wall

On the way to the wall we stopped off at a jade factory and on the way back at a pearl factory where not  least the girls were very very interested when the guide opened a shell to show the 30+ pearls inside. Each got a  Cecilia, Yanmei and Melanie look at pearls in the newly opened shellmini-pearl just out of its  shell. We had lunch on the 11th floor of some hotel, called the Grand (we think) – again very mediocre and certainly not "Grand".

Back at the hotel and we had an early afternoon swim in the pool – even Steven participated. This was our last day in Beijing, tomorrow we were on the road again. We wonder what Yanmei was thinking - would she be jealous (as we expected), would they get on. Time would tell! 

We went for a late afternoon walk to the World Trade Centre – ca. 1km to the left of the hotel. This is yet another shopping centre with lots of expensive shops and even an ice-skating rink; but not a lot of shoppers. We bought a few things at a supermarket before eating a slightly better dinner at the Chinese restaurant in the hotel. 

Unfortunately we were too late for cakes.

Autumn colours along the wall

The wall stretches on into the horizon

NEXT DAY (27th)