Thursday, April 7, 2016

Beijing to Zhengzhou

I have walked the Great Wall of China, and have the sore calves to prove it! A private driver picked us up on our first morning in Beijing for the 1 1/2 hour drive to the Mutianyu section of the Wall. We took a chairlift to the sixth watchtower, then hiked up and down the wall all the way to the 21st tower. We had to get to a high spot right? Who is this family?! Anyway, the pictures can tell the story. Just amazing views. Then we went back to the sixth tower for a toboggan ride back down. The guy who supervised we called The Toboggan Nazi. He kept screaming at people to take off sunglasses, etc., and even snapped a little stick. But then we caught him winking, that suggested that the attitude was entertainment for the crowd. Well, free of any welt marks, we got our turn. What a fun and surprisingly long ride it was. We recommend it when you get to the Wall yourself!

just to give you an idea of how steep this walk can be in parts.....

Laeschs apparently can't get enough of walking. Darn those fitbits. The next day, we had another glorious seventy degree, blue sky day, so we walked to the Forbidden City, former "enter and you will be executed" private domain to 400 years of emperors. Largest palace complex in the world. We only had access to a small portion, but that was still a lot of walking.  I appreciate the attention to geometric design that the ancient Chinese adhered to. Beautiful. Best part were the imperial gardens at the end, IMO. Spring has arrived here, and the flowering trees were stunning. Forbidden city is near two other parks, also, so we strolled around Beihai and Jin shan parks, and imagined what the lake there would look like when the hundreds of lotus were in bloom. The Chinese have symbolism for many plants and trees, and I think lotus symbolize longevity. Many of our dramatic flora originate here (peonies, azaleas, magnolias, etc.). Rows of weeping willow trees lined the lake banks and paths, and the shorelines and hills were punched with the color of blooming forsythia and flowering peach and apple trees. And they had rubber ducky boats! Happy flower lover!
A ceiling in one room in the Forbidden city palace complex.

When we got back to our hotel, we found an Easter basket with chocolate  treats and a personal note. What an awesome little inn.
You know you are in China when your room comes equipped with a gas mask. Yikes. So glad the air pollution has been so low while we are here. But we have certainly seen some trucks and smoke stacks belching coal black smoke. Gotta love the carbon emissions.

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