Sunday, October 27th - Northeast of Beijing

Our original itinerary is for the Fragrant Hills Park but because it is a weekend, our guide, Ju Ju, suggests that we go to the Great Wall instead as Fragrant Hills would be very crowded with locals enjoying the autumn weather. This is fine but he also says the Great Wall is a half day tour and therefore, if we wish, we could go to Ding Ling Underground Palace. This would cost us extra. We vote to go ahead and see Ding Ling. There are stairs to go up the hill, then stairs to go down inside the hill to get to the tomb. Miami is flat, we are not used to going up and down so many stairs. I should have made StairMaster exercises part of my pre-trip preparation.

Ticket for Ming Tombs

The tomb is cavernous and reminscent of a subway station. There is an ingenious tomb door designed to be locked from the inside after it was closed. The tomb had not been robbed as the exact location had been kept secret with all its laborers executed.

Afterwards, we go to the Avenue of the Spirits, which is a long walk through 24 evenly spaced rows of statues larger than life.

Ticket to the Sacred Road Museum (Avenue of the Spirits)

It's quite impressive. Larger than life statues of officials and animals guard the way to the Ming Tombs.

One interesting aspect of the walkway is that is not a straight line, it curves at one point to throw the evil spirits off its path. Shu Shu (Uncle) Seth is very happy that we only have to walk one way. Our van is waiting for us at the end of the walk.

Earl and his totem animal

Seth finds his previous incarnation

Lunchtime, then it's off to the Great Wall. The drive out to the wall is quite scenic. The Great Wall proves to be quite a steep walk just to get to the cable car which takes you up to the summit. Another hazard is the vendors trying to sell you T-shirts. The cable car is enclosed so Earl, who has a certain fear of heights, feels comfortable about using it. It's a fun ride.

Cable car ticket

We're on the wall until dusk. Earl & Seth rest at the one tower while Mei Mei (younger sister) Chie-Mie and I, Jie Jie (elder sister) walk over to the next tower or should I say climb?

It's pretty steep and there is a ladder to climb up to the top of the tower.

Ju Ju helps me with my camera and backpack. I had loaded my backpack with jackets and extra clothes as we were warned that it would be cold at the Great Wall. In reality, it's warm as there is no wind. I take off my extra skirt and that makes the climb easier.

Both Earl and Chie-Mie have forgotten to bring their cameras.

There is some snow on the ground and I do my utmost to try to finish my film for the day.

The weather is beautiful.

Earl buys a local craft item - a carved walnut with a Buddha image. Allright - we now have a souvenir - a Great Wall Nut.

Ju Ju buys Earl a T-shirt as Earl doesn't want to bargain. It's getting dark and time to leave. We stop to buy some persimmons from the vendors in the countryside. Ju Ju takes us for a Peking roast duck dinner and we're all too tired to really appreciate it. The chef carves up the duck and we practice making duck crepes.

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