As we drove through Beijing, we saw the site of the 2008 Olympics. We had to look fast because our driver has a heavy foot. There's really no such thing as defensive driving here...it's offensive! As we moved to the outskirts of the city, the temperature dropped and there was more and more snow the further we went.
We took an unexpected stop at a jade factory. We learned that not all jade is green, and saw some pretty amazing things carved out of it. It was interesting, and after a crash course on the process of what they do to the jade, we got to go to the "big showroom." We managed to leave without falling into that tourist trap.
We had to walk a couple blocks to a restaurant where we ate lunch near the entrance to the Great Wall. It. was. freezing. Like, my lungs were burning it was so cold. Our sweet guide, Wendy, asked us how long we wanted to stay at the Wall after lunch. At this point, we were fine with a quick walk on the wall and a few pics to prove we had been there. Wendy said our best option would be to take a cable car that could have us near the top of the wall in 3 minutes. Then we could walk to the top and snap a few pictures. Sounded like a plan! After lunch, Steven invested in a very handsome "Great Wall" beanie and we were on our way.
The cable car ride was really cool! This wall is literally built through miles and miles steep mountains. Wendy told us that 2000 years ago, the first emperor forced prisoners to build it. They had to work 16 or more hours a day and may of them died because of poor working conditions. They buried the bodies in the wall, so it is also known as the world's longest cemetery. Ok, enough with the history lesson.
We got off the cable car and headed onto the wall. Part of it has steps, and then there is a section that is just a really steep incline...covered in snow. We held onto the rail and started up. It was so slippery! Our guide said she has never been to the Wall in the snow. We looked behind us only to see a long line of Asians holding onto the rail for dear life behind us. There was no turning back. (Sidenote, this is not the tourist season, so it was just us and maybe a couple hundred Asians...we stood out like a sore thumb). Everyone was slipping and laughing. This could have been an Olympic sport!
We finally made it to the top of the incline where we tried to get some pictures through the fog. Then came the hard part...getting back down the incline! It was hilarious. Basically, you just held onto the rail and slid until you ran into somebody or could get your footing. One guy decided he didn't want to wait in the long line of people going down via the hand rail. He walked to the middle, squatted down, and slid all the way to the bottom into a group of cheering people. Steven got it on video, but it won't upload...we'll work on it. We had a blast! We may not have been able to see much of the wall, but we had an unforgettable experience!
We went to a tea house to warm up. That was a neat experience too. It was no Milo's, but we enjoyed it! We ended t
he day by going to an acrobatic show. That was fun too, but the jetlag was starting to get to us by that point. Our time here in Beijing is short, so we are trying to cram a lot in. Tomorrow we will go to the Forbidden City, Tiennamen Square, and do a Hutong tour. Then we will fly out to Guangzhou and prepare to meet Ayla!