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China Day 3 - Beijing and Great Wall

Added: August 10, 2009

Tags: China city photos ruins
Wednesday, 8th of July. Wake up call is at 6am. We are leaving in 30 minutes because Rich wants to beat crowds at Great Wall. I like this approach. It suits me well. If I can come somewhere soon I usually do it.

We have been warned about breakfasts in Chinese hotels, but that is nothing compared to warning we have received regarding today. The breakfast boxes hotels give to people who cannot come to proper breakfast are terrible. They were probably invented to torture people by hunger. So I cheated a bit and ate a few things I brought with myself. It did not help at all :-( Unfortunately this was not the only time we ended up with dreaded breakfast box. Well, even getting to places before crowd forms has some disadvantages.


Great Wall at Mutianyu

Weather was worse than yesterday. It was foggy. But at least it was not as hot as yesterday. In the beginning I was thinking it is pollution and it will fix up when we leave Beijing. But it did not work. We approached mountains and they were barely visible. We passed around many of them and visibility was still low.

Finally we arrived to Mutianyu. We could see mountains and hints of wall up there. But it was a bit disappointing. We opted to use cable car to get up to save some time (and energy). But we bought only single ticket as we planned to get back by walking. BTW, if you intend to go to Mutianyu, do not hope walking up and see nice views. We were told there is not much to see as trees obstruct your view.

At top, we decided to go to left part first. It was up to hill (quite steep, before end of tourist part) so we wanted to finish that first. We were not alone joking that we are not resting, but taking pictures. If nothing else, cloudy cold weather made our climbing easier. But we did not come here to feel good...

As we rested at the highest part of public path we could hear the thunder, so we decided to go down to place where we could eventually hide in some tower. And we can rest there.

After getting to the right part (in relation to cable car we used to go up) visibility got a bit better, but it was still nothing special. Peter, our local guide, told us it is typical Chinese weather. Not much different from Wales :-) So I have asked when it is good time to visit this place - October: blue sky, red and yellow trees.

Allowed time passed very quickly, we did not get chance to come to right end of walk and again we decided to go down by cable car, otherwise we would be late. So allow plenty of time for walking at Mutianyu.

Fog, fog, fog.




Later on the visibility got bit better, so we could see distant parts of wall.

Some watchtowers are quite nice. Notice roof is decorated with the same animals we have seen in the Forbidden City.

BTW, have you noticed crowd thing did not happen? There were people around, but short wait was enough to get rather good unobstructed photo.
Either weather, or they are at some other place.

Visit to "pottery" factory

When we sat in bus again we were informed we are going to pottery factory (pottery is not probably exact term, as they use copper). I suspect it was mandatory visit (not like Explore decided we will be interested, but they could not refuse. We have been to more places like this and before entering one of them we were told that local guide would loose his licence if we did not go there...).

It turned to be quite nice experience. Seeing all the steps to turn piece of metal plate into brightly coloured and beautiful vase. Sorry, not all steps, last one, gilding, was secret. As if we did not learn in school how chemical gilding works... or we could not google :-) (BTW, try Cloisonné).

Enamel-filling. Go to the following photo and return here 8 to 10 times.

Firing of enamel on the left. Polishing on the right.
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Then, with huge hope in their eyes we stepped into... the shop! I have pretended I am in a museum though. One where you can take pictures. Apart from being astonished by hand made products they sold I have been astonished by prices. For example 2200 GBP for 30cm vase (but beautiful one!). They had also cheaper pieces, but much smaller and 2nd class (clearly visible). If I did not see the 1st class I might liked them.

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