Breakfast and we're off again. Small deep fried bananas were a treat. Deep fried anything seems to make whatever it is better. Ivy arranged our trip to The Great Wall today. We're headed to Badaling. It's about an hour and a half bus ride to the northeast of Beijing.
Our guide on the bus was rambling on and on in Chinese speaking quickly and asking Ivy to translate everything didn't seem reasonable. I opened one of my translation apps to see if I could catch anything important during our bus ride.
I guess I shouldn't be shocked that it worked very well. Of note, Nixon and Kissinger are still celebrities here in China. They both get mentioned a lot as a turning point in Chinese foreign relations. They did "open up" China. It's been fascinating to learn more about Kissinger's secret trips here the year before Nixon came. Nixon visited the same portion of the wall at Badaling in 1972 that we will see today.
We arrived and were quickly shuffled into a movie. It was on a giant domed screen and felt mostly like propaganda. The chairs moved while the film displayed a perspective of flying over the scenery. I think this classifys as 4D. The Wall signifies our dedication to duty and innovative power! Okay.
We then headed up towards the cable cars that would take us up a hill. Hiking up is an option, but glad we took the cable car up. There were two little girls in our carriage that got quite the thrill out of swaying back and forth a bit on the way up. I always enjoy the young children staring at the foreigner. I do my best to give them an impish warm smile.
When we made it the top there were immediately spectacular views of the wall running off into the distance with tower stations sporadically spaced along the way. And lots of people. Lots and lots of people.
The giant stone blocks used to build it came from the mountains that the wall traverses. The path the wall takes along ridge lines relied heavily upon the necessary resources being available along that route.
Ivy had a goal of making it to the highest point. Some of the stairs and path felt straight up. They were super steep. We reached our goal after fighting through the crowds.
Schmelmo made his appearance too.
I had another American celebrity moment. A young man approached me as we were climbing to the top and asked if we could take a picture together.
His name is Li Xiang Bo. We shared WeChat contact info and I hope to hear from him again. He wanted to hear and practice English. A very polite young man that was excited to meet a laowei (foreigner). Of the thousands and thousands of people I saw today I noticed only one that looked European besides myself.
This portion of The Great Wall at Badaling was completed in 1505 during the Ming Dynasty. Its main purpose was to prevent the Khans from Mongolia invading (again). The wall all across northern China ended up serving as outposts along the Silk Road protecting trade from east to west.
So many pictures taken today. Choosing here was difficult.
After the return to Beijing we hit an authentic Texas BBQ restaurant called Home Plate. My friends Tia and Jeremy said it was awesome (and they're from Texas).
Brisket, pulled pork, slaw, and smoked cream corn. OMG. Seriously. A religious experience. So good I ordered more.
Perfect down to the cornbread with butter and honey. Didn't realize how much I missed this when getting together with the guys for cribbage night. Immediately sent them all a note. When I get home this summer I will require a giant slab of smoked Merican cow. Yeah, I spelled that correctly. Also of note, this restaurant had an American BBQ joint nailed. Picnic tables inside. Memphis, Kansas City, and Texas BBQ all accounted for. Country music playing. Cowboy paraphernalia on the walls. Wish I had taken more pictures.
Had a special memory flashback. Moira and I spent A lot of summer lunch's together at a place called Texas BBQ in Bellingham. We always had the brisket and sides. It was the cornbread with butter and honey for dessert that I remember most.