Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Summer Palace and Great Wall

From Kate:

Friday, June 4, 2010
Today we had class where we discussed China’s political model and then went to lunch. Following lunch, we went to the Summer Palace and it was incredible! We walked through the gate and up a few stairs and there it was! We came in on the temple side though, not the park side—which made the view from the top all the more impressive. We climbed many, many stairs to reach the top of the temple. After walking through the rooms of the temple, we climbed a bunch of rocks and below us was the lake (well, one of them, we came to find out). We took a few pictures and then headed down the other side into a huge temple complex. Unfortunately, most of the side rooms were closed and we weren’t able to see the artifacts inside—but it was still cool! Once we reached the bottom floor, we went on a paddle boat tour of the lake—just the 5 of us who came to the Summer Palace from AU. We let Dave drive and I sat on the prow and dangled my feet in the water. The water itself was super warm. After our boat ride, we walked along the Long Hall (at least that’s what I think it was, it didn’t seem all that long to me) and got stopped by a few people who wanted us to take pictures with them and then went to see the marble boat of Empress Cixi.

Saturday, June 05, 2010 The Great Wall!!
We met at 8:50 am to take a private bus up to the Mutianyu Great Wall location—about 2 hours away with the traffic that we got stuck in when leaving Beijing. The drive was really pretty once we got out of the city and started to climb the mountains. We stopped at the base of a little shopping area for the Great Wall. Little did we know about the tremendous climb that we were getting ourselves into. First we climbed up the steep road through the shops of the street vendors before finally making it to the ticket booth. We walk through the gate and go through a bunch of caves which were nice and cool in the caves and it was fun—you had to step on stones in order to cross all the water. Then we began the climb which we thought was going to be a rather short trek to the wall—boy were we wrong! It was a long trek up a ton of stairs and winding paths that were, in fact, mostly stone. Upon reaching the wall, many of us were tired already. We climbed along the wall a tremendous distance—almost reaching the non-touristy area. We particularly enjoyed the guard towers which provided shade and an exceptional cross breeze—it was almost like having AC!! Once we made it back to our start point, there were three ways to get down the rest of the way—walk the way we came, toboggan down the side of the mountain, or take a cable car. Jenn and I decided on the cable car. Shortly after making it down to the base of the wall, we met to drive back to the university.

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