Tuesday, January 9, 2018

We could've gone all the way to the Great Wall of China

Going to China over our 5th anniversary was more happenstance than the plan - the schedule just worked out that way. When we first got married, I think I said something about maybe going back to the hotel in San Diego where we spent our honeymoon for our 5th. China was way better!

Our anniversary was on Monday this year, and we spent the morning at the Summer Palace. It’s a gorgeous and huge property, with a large man-made lake in the middle. It’s probably nicer in the summer, but still neat to see year-round. In fact, it was one of several places we saw on our trip with people doing morning exercise on the grounds. In this case, at least a couple of older men were doing tai chi in a sun warmed spot.

The Bronze Ox is keeping watch over the palace

Seventeen Arch Bridge

We elected not to explore the whole area, just so we’d have more time to explore our afternoon destination - The Great Wall! On the way, we stopped at a jade market to learn more about jade carving and found a perfect anniversary gift to ourselves.
Jade carving

Process of carving a Happy Family Ball
This photo doesn't do it justice, but we purchased a Happy Family Ball - The outer ball is a dragon (the husband) and a phoenix (the wife) wrapped around and protecting the inner balls (the generations yet to come). We wanted something with a dragon and phoenix for our anniversary from this trip, and finding this on the actual day was perfect.

Lunch was at a place at the base of the mountain with a view of the Great Wall! The food was alright, but that view was particularly neat! Some friends of ours who had previously been posted in Beijing with the State Department recommend we go to the Mutianyu section (there are several to choose from), which they said had better views and fewer people. Apparently it’s also our guide’s favorite section and he’d never had anyone request it before. Now that we’ve been there, we absolutely agree that it's the place to be!

There aren’t as many domestic tourists that come to this section and there were times we almost felt like we were alone on this wall.

We took a chair lift to the wall itself (though you can just hike up), and then hiked as many sections as we had time for. Some were practically ladders you had climb up! I bum-scooted back down that one and a kind fellow tourist looked at me, then back to Blake skeptically, and then asked if I wanted to hold onto his arm on the way, probably wondering why Blake wasn’t helping. I thanked him but just said it’s because I have short legs and it was easier this way. I promise Blake is a good helper and excellent husband!

Ultimately, we walked about 3 miles around the Wall and my Fitbit logged 91 flights of stairs this day!

As incredible as the Wall in the Mutianyu section is, it was almost as incredible to get down - by toboggan! We each took a sled 1.5km down the mountain, a ride that actually takes a few minutes! I learned about it after we had already chosen this section and our guide suggested it as well. You do have a handbrake to control your speed, and the slope is gentle. Definitely the way to go!

A little cold, but so worth it!

All told, this was probably the highlight of our whole Beijing leg of this trip. Such an amazing experience!

Dinner that night was Peking duck, beef, and vegetables. Lots more vegetables served with meals in China than in Japan, which we appreciate.

Duck on a duck shaped plate

Carving the duck

Here’s to five years of wedded bliss with an eternity to go!
Blake had try the Pepsi Blue, once available in the US, but now only in Indonesia and, apparently, in the Carrefour in Beijing. I tried the Green Apple Mirinda.


Jenny Clawson said...

Sounds like a great trip! I am grateful for your e ample

Giggles said...

Happy Anniversary!

I love the Happy Family Ball. I love finding ways different cultures honor the importance of family. What the perfect anniversary gift for yourself.

And I'd definitely choose that way to get down the mountain too. Fun!

AmandaStretch said...

Thank you Jenny and Lisa!