Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Real Great Wall of China

Sorry that I haven't posted anything recently. I had three exams a week ago and as a result, this is a pretty good summary of my life recently:

Note that that is not even all of the Chinese language flashcards that I have. Additionally, after the exams, we gained two new textbooks so... inevitably I will have flashcards for all the hundreds of words in those as well...

So this past Saturday, I went on a hiking trip with Beijing Hikers.  Basically, they organize 3 or more excursions a week where you can go out and hike the mountains near Beijing for around 300块.  It's pretty nice considering that they provide transportation, water, guides, etc.  Also, because it's a western group, there tends to be a large number of English speakers, both among the guides and the other hikers.  Hiking around Beijing tends to involve the Great Wall in one way or another, so we ended up heading up to the Chinese Knot, which is just a specific location along the wall, by means of trail and unrestored wall.  INCIDENTALLY, you know how I mentioned before that when I went went up to the Great Wall with Hedrick, we opted for the unrestored part instead of the restored part in hopes that it would be less crowded and more authentic.  Well, as it turns out, there are varying levels of unrestored, and clearly, what Hedrick and I visited was the "crumbling-but-we'll-probably-fix-that-soon-so-it's-not-quite-falling-apart-yet" part of wall.

On the other hand, this is what actual unrestored wall looks like:

The trails through the wall were completely overgrown, and there were places where the wall itself was about to or had already in fact collapsed.  It made for a really fun and much more exciting hike, and I got some pretty good pictures.  Unfortunately, it is that part of Fall where a lot of the leaves have already fallen off and the rest are dead and brown, so the colors are not quite as spectacular as they could be... but just imagine how this would look earlier in the Fall or in the Spring.  In any case, it was still beautiful:

Oh and the weather was beyond perfect!  After many weeks of fog (read: the haze of pollution), I think it rained, which usually leads to a few days of sunshine.  So this Saturday was beautiful and sunny, and the temperature had to be around 55 degrees Fahrenheit(?)  Basically, as soon as we were actually hiking, it quickly reached a point where I was pulling off layer after layer.  This, of course, led to a strange pattern where anytime I was going uphill I would take off my jacket and scarf and everything, and anytime I was standing or going downhill, I would replace all the layers, and on occasion add a few more as the wind blew.  HOWEVER, overall, the weather could not have been better for mid-November in the mountains.

After we had reached the Chinese Knot, we hiked down the side of the mountain to this sleepy little town in the middle of the valley where the group organized snacks and drinks as well as, you know, the bus home.

Now this was a pretty stereotypical rural village.  Tiny houses, dogs and chickens running around, etc.  One of the funnier things was that it wasn't too hard to figure out what the current major export of the village was:

I'm willing to put my money on corn.  >>  Anyhow, I'm doing this hike in two weeks so that should be a lot of fun.  :)

This coming week, my school organized a trip to see a traditional Chinese opera.  Now, I have heard that it is entirely unlistenable, but I imagine it will be an experience, and I'm super interested in the costumes personally.  In addition, last week, we had an event for rugby that involved a raffle, and I won something!  This is actually amazing because I never win anything... although I suppose there were 5 prizes and only about 30 to 40 people there... but still!  I won a cooking class at the Hutong, which incidentally is where the mens' team captain works.  I am very excited about it because they offer a lot of classes on various regional Chinese cuisine which would be awesome to learn a bit about.  I'll post more about that when I actually do it.

I'll be better at posting in the next couple of weeks, I swear!

hearts and stars,

1 comment:

  1. yay, this looks very cool - i'm so glad you found the beijing hikers group :)

    also, good luck with the opera... i watched a chinese movie once, a long time ago, and the one thing i remember from it is how... unlistenable the opera was. hope it's interesting though!!