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BEIJING - DAY 3

Ming Tombs & Great Wall

sunny 66 °F

Ming Tombs (Shi San Ling)-The resting place for 13 of the 16 Ming-dynasty (1368–1644) emperors, this is China’s finest example of imperial funerary architecture. The site was selected because of its auspicious feng shui alignment; a ridge of mountains to the north cradles the tombs on three sides, protecting the dead from the evil spirits carried on the north wind. The tombs are spread over 15 square miles (40 sq km). Three (Chang Ling, Ding Ling, and Zhao Ling) have been restored and are always busy. Unrestored, the rest are open but quiet.

Part of the 4-mile (7-km) approach to the tombs, the Spirit Way (Shen Dao) is lined with 18 pairs of giant guardians – stone statues of court officials, imperial warriors, animals, and mythical Chinese beasts.
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A horse for Philip
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The Great Wall of China (Wanli Changcheng). Even after you dispense with the myths that it is a single continuous structure and that it can be seen from space (it can't, any more than a fishing line can be seen from the other side of a river), China's best-known attraction is still mind-boggling. “Great” is something of an understatement; the wall is nothing less than spectacular. Clambering up the perilously sloping carriageways to one of the crowning watchtowers and the experience is literally breath-taking.

Look closely - we started the walk at the bottom.
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In the distance is marvelous views of Ba Da Ling, snaking up the mountains to the north, and south toward Beijing.
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View of T9 and T10. I made it past T-10 before turning back.
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Me - at T-9
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Climbing the Great Wall is a relative term. Some of us staggered, others leaped, mostly I was looking only at my feet and gasping for air. My personal climbing mantra was "don't take your eyes off the feet." The steps can be high (over a foot) or tiny or deeply rutted from thousands of years and you're not alone on the wall - sometimes the wall is only wide enough for 2 people and one of those two is usually bounding, leaping or stopping abruptly to take a picture - hard to see when your eyes are glued to the feet. The wall above the walking path is very low and there is the feeling that a good knock would send you over the side. There are railings which mar the effect a little but honestly, I used them to pull myself up and the cane to stead me. I'm in a dozen pictures as some of the Chinese told me how courageous I was ... translating "she's lost her mind." And had I known how absolutely terrifying the descent would be, I'd still be on the bus. But my personal hero was Ed. Step by step, breath by breath - he walked that wall; further than I thought he could or should. Coming down, I saw him sail pass the exit and head towards Ba Da Ling so I chased after him and we staggered back to the bus together.

Returning from the Great Wall, we stopped at a Cloisonné factory. I found it the most interesting. For the most part, I thought the mandatory shopping stops annoying and most of the stuff over-priced. As a young girl, visiting China Town in San Francisco - Cloisonné was popular and cheap. In the past years, I rarely see it anymore. After touring the factory, I can see why it's a dying art.

About the shopping - to be fair; I'm not a bargain hunter. If I want something; I usually know the value and what I can expect to pay. Beyong the sales person showing me what I want; I want to be left alone.

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Traffic - it never stops. Beijing is locked in an ongoing battle with pollution and congestion. A 2009 survey revealed that about 1,500 new cars are added to Beijing roads every day. The new vehicles add to the already headache-inducing traffic as well as the unhealthy pollution levels.

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Posted by ChinaBecky 03:54 Archived in China

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