We’ve decided to go to South Africa and are leaving tonight at 2 AM. Ugh. Our tentative plan is to go get used to the African scene in South Aftica, then tour the countries of southern Africa. After that, it’s up in the air. If we like it, we’ll likely go up the east coast, maybe all the way to Egypt, Jordan, and Syria to Turkey. But that all is way in the future. We aren’t all that informed right now, so we’ll have to wing it while we’re down there. Should be interesting. We’ve been killing a couple of days here in Beijing, not doing much of anything. Yesterday we just went around doing a little shopping and sat in Starbuck’s for a while. Myung finally got to see Mao’s body. I uploaded the photos you are about to see. Today is nothing. We’ll get rid of our Chinese money, probably walk around, eat, and get out of Dodge.
Three days ago, I went to the Qing dynasty summer palace. Most of it was built in the 19th century, as previous summer palaces were destroyed by fires and Opium Wars. It’s really quite nice. Rater than give you boring tour guide info, I’ll just post the pictures.
Two days ago, I went to a couple of places along the Great Wall, Jingshan and Simatai. They are about 100 km northwest of here, about 20 km apart. It was nice up there. Often grand vistas in China are obscured by the air pollution, or “Great Pall of China” as LP puts it, You could see pretty well. There were few people at Jingshan, which is not a very popular site. It is rather less dramatic than Simatai. It was about 10,000 km of long, though only maybe 1500 km still exist and most of it has not been restored. No wonder it’s one of the seven wonders of the world. It may not be the technical achievement the pyramids in Giza are, but the amount of work required to build it over hundreds of years is unimaginable. You’ve seen many pictures, of course, but here are some more. At Simatai, you can walk up, which almost no one does. Or you can take a tram about 3/4 of the way up and walk the rest, then walk up to the wall (or not), and return down by tram. Or you can take a tram up and walk along the wall, then down. That’s what I did. Most proplr just look up at it from down low where the wall goes over a river. The picture with the tram gives you an idea of how rugged some of the ridges are, and how you can really sprain an ankle walking up and down. Those are watchtowers along the top.
For what it’s worth, we went to the Olympic park. What a nice set up for the Olympics they had, with the Bird’s Nest, some other stadiums and the Water Cube. There is a huge square, too. Too bad it’s almost completely unused now. It all just sits there looking forlorn. The first even scheduled at the Bird’s Nest isn’t until November. What a bath they took, unless you count the intangible value of publicity.
Anyway, see you in Africa. Be well, all of you.