Today I became the hero of the state

– I climbed up onto the Great Wall. According to the great Chairman himself, one can only call oneself a hero after climbing the wall. I’m not sure he meant it quite the way it sounds…

Another grey hazy day, and we went out of Beijing to the closest gate – I didn’t see Genghis, but it certainly impressed me – the wall snakes up and down the densely forested hills outside the city. I can imagine how hard it would have been to thrash the way up hill and down dale through the greenery only to then be faced by the wall. I wouldn’t have done it, but then again I’ve never really been motivated by conquering..

The assault on the wall felt harder than the climb of Huainapicchu in Peru.

38 deg C, 100% humidity, uneven steps and the height of the climb… One of our fellow travellers shared a new theory- the height to which one climbs is inverse to the age of the climber… So, being quite old, we only climbed to the second gate house, and that was quite enough. The view was constrained by  haze – making out any thing further than 500m away was nigh impossible. Poor hubby, I insisted on having the tripod just in case there was an opportunity for high dynamic range photography? The range was definitely less than dynamic. But I used it anyway – I didn’t want H to think he’d gone to the trouble of carrying it for nothing!!

The climb down is inevitably worse, and by the time we hit ground floor, my knees were shaking and I felt like I’d just been dunked in a bath. For $13 each we had an iced coffee and I took up position in front of one of the air-conditioners until my face faded from beet red to a delicate shade of lobster. It is not true that ladies only glow, or maybe I’m not a lady?

Tomorrow I am investing in an umbrella – sun on hat on head = hot head. Sun on umbrella 500mm above head = slightly cooler head. And we definitely want cool heads.China

Our other stop was a Jade factory… I learned a few things about jade – they seem to call all  sorts of things jade; amber, jasper whatever… But the value is dependent on clarity and colour and translucency. Very rare, and therefore very expensive is where there is a seam of white through purply/black jade – several beautiful sculptures used this feature – one of white ibis perched on rock was particularly stunning.

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Lunch was Chinese again – at a cloisonne factory. Now you’d think the french had invented everything the way they give such lovely names to things… But we are assured that the Chinese developed this art form – brass structures with enamelled colours. Sigh – some of the pieces were truly stunning.. We restricted ourselves to a few portable pieces and numerous photos..

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