Friday–adventure, awe, and yes, shopping!

Our first stop on Friday morning was the Beijing Dragon Land Superior Jade Gallery, which is advertised as one of the largest jade meccas in Asia. The Biejing area is noted for centuries for its exquisite and high quality jade. After a short tour of the jade carving area, we were unleashed into the store to shop! And that we did–like pros! But NO price haggling or negotiating here!

A bus ride of about a half hour, mostly uphill, took us to undoubtedly one of the highlights of our trip to China–the GREAT WALL. The section that we visited was the 600 year old Badaling Fortification area which was built during the Ming dynasty. The entire Great Wall is over 4,000 miles in length, and it snakes its way across mountains and valleys in northern China. Its purpose was to defend against invaders, and was built in stages beginning in the 7th centruy BC.

For about an hour and a half, we explored and climbed up and back down sections–some very steep–of the Great Wall. It was a beautiful clear, but windy day, and the views of the surrounding mountains were awe inspiring. The sensation of walking along the wall on centuries old stones and steps and wondering how the Chinese built such a magnificent structure so long ago was awesome!

Following the Great Wall experience, we traveled back down the narrow and twisting mountain roads for lunch and a tour of the Cloisonne factory. Cloisonne is hand-crafted enamelware that is both highly colorful, orantely detailed, and decorative. It comes in a wide array of sizes and pieces–vases, plates, and cups. Made of coppers etched with inticate designs, each piece is highly colorful and was a symbol of authority and status in ancient times. Following a tour of the production areas, another “planned” shopping opportunity followed, and we, of course, fell for it!

The last stop of the day was at the Ming tombs outside of Beijing. Another sprawling complex of meticulously preserved builings, the highlight of the Ming tombs was the Underground tombs area. The tomb were five floors beneath the surface. Much of this entire complex, where 13 emperors are entombed, has yet to be excavated. Only a few of the tombs have been explored and opened to date.

After returning to the hotel, our tour guide located a restaurant nearby within walking distance that specialized in Peking Duck dinners. Four ducks were ordered and a great new dining experience followed. A nice way to conclude a busy and memorable day!

The Great wall at Badaling Fortification

The Great wall at Badaling Fortification

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