The Temple of Heaven was our first stop after breakfast on our 5th day in China. Mary, our guide, gave us a brief history on the creation of this temple. Everything in China is laden with such dramatic history and politics. It’s difficult not to be reeled into the sagas of emperors, concubines, dynasties rising and falling. I wished I had paid more attention in art history!!
Before heading to the Great Wall, we had lunch at the second floor of a jade factory. It seems we ate lunch in factories a lot. Pearl factory had a banquet hall upstairs, jade factory, cloisonne factory.
I can’t say lunch was ever very impressive or delicious. Most of the time we had generic vegetables, 1 dish of meat, sometimes a soup. Out of the 6-8 dishes we’d get, 80% of them were vegetables which is good, very good, but I kinda missed red meat. Seriously.
Cloisonne factory. The people working here are hardcore. Most of the cloisonne products out there in the market now aren’t created by the French, but by Chinese. The entire process is so very tedious and meticulous that it’s becoming a dying art form. Even though I find cloisonne pretty kitschy, I wanted to own a few of the owl pieces I saw there.
After lunch, I started to feel a little nervous about climbing the Great Wall. Our drive into the mountains was lovely. Shrouded by thin layers of fog (smog??) the mountains were bursting with trees. When we caught the first glimpse of the Wall, I was awed. Mary gave us all sorts of factoids about the wall and when we arrived at the parking lot, that was when I truly realised the awesomeness of this man-made barrier.
The hike up to the first guard station was INTENSE. After two sections of stairs, I thought I was going to vomit. The steepness, the height, the elevation was all a little much for me. We pressed on though and made it to the top in just over an hour. The view was grand. I’d really love to explore more parts of the Great Wall.. one small section is physically, enough for one trip, but being able to see other parts of the Wall snake through the mountains was very cool.
We all had foot massages at another location of Tung Ren Tong. AHHHH!!!!!!!! And after that, we had dinner in their banquet hall/theatre. Hot pot!!
Me at the Bird’s Nest. It was so surreal to be there having watched the Olympics last year. I couldn’t believe how many people were there, visiting! We also heard Jackie Chan rehearsing in the Bird’s Nest for his Labour Day concert.