June 6, 2010

Days 5: The Great Wall and Houhai Nights, Beijing

Wall Walk View, Mutianyu Great Wall, China

The Great Wall is one of those “must do’s” when visiting Beijing. I’ve seen the wall from photographs, from movies, from outer space. For me, I was not so much interested in the wall, as seeing the neighboring village outside of the city. I chose to visit the Mutianyu section, some 70km north and one of the best preserved. Also, fewer tourists visit since the drive is almost two hours from Beijing. I found Mr. Lui at the front desk of the hotel when I went to inquire about a car and driver. He seemed friendly enough and even spoke a little English. Devananda was coming along too, and would be able to translate. Mr. Lui picked up Devananda first and they both arrived at the hotel exactly at 2:00pm as planned, since I was hoping for sunset shots at the Great Wall.

It was a fun ride, we chatted and laughed our way out of the city. The dense chaos of Beijing soon dissolved into green fields and tree lined sidewalks. Each tree was painted with a band of white paint and a red stripe about one third the way up its trunk, creating this beautiful pattern as we moved along.

I was lucky to find that there is a cable car to take you to the top. Unfortunately, the car stops at 5:30, which did not give us much time on the wall. This meant that there would be no sunset shots.

Surprise, surprise how jaded am I! Seeing the wall in person was more than I ever imagined.  It’s impressive as it undulates over ridges, dropping down into valleys, snaking its way across China.  We climbed to the first Watch Tower where the jasmine flowers were blooming all around us filling the air with a sweetness that was heaven scent.

Once down from the mountain I did a bit of yoga and Tai Chi with Devananda.  Then had a delicious dinner on the outskirts of Beijing.  We arrived to the hotel late and set off to the HouHai area for a drink to catch the night scene.  The hutongs to the lively Back Lakes district were alive with activity as people prepared for the evening.

Mao Entry, Suoyi Hutong, Beijing

Night Scene, Houhai, Beijing

Tomorrow is Day 6 and I am off to the Summer Palace for my last day in Beijing.

Mt. Ararat

Marla Mossman

My photo
One woman traveling alone, in search of her religious and cultural heritage.