Each room with members of the tour got an early morning wake-up call and we were on the road by 7:30am. We were on our way to the Great Wall. It was one of things I had always wanted to do since I studied China in the 5th grade. My sister Wendy reminded me that if there was a place i wanted to go in Asia near Korea, I should do it while I lived in Korea. Actually, I tried to go a decade ago but the Chinese Embassy changed the rules and I should apply for a visa through a travel agent, so I ran out of time that winter and didn't try again. The reason for traveling in the winter is because the summer is too crowded. I really hate crowds. And even in the winter it was crowded enough. I heard it was cold in the winter but, well, so is Canada. How bad could it be? I found out later that day.
We reached Badaling and found out it is really cold up in the mountains. The wind was really strong that day too. We were supposed to ride some cable cars over the wall but the wind was so strong that they were grounded. Instead we went up a cable car attached to the ground that went up near the wall. Then you had to walk up a cement path and metal stairs. As we got closer the wind blew harder and colder. Younghwa gave up and told me it was too dangerous. She wanted me to go down with her. I did not come this far to give up. Gasping with cold, I pulled myself up the stairs, over the platform and made it onto the wall. It felt like a victory. I took pictures then I looked at the watchtowers. I tried for the closest one. The wind between the crenelations was fierce and threatened to knock me down. After a few false starts I decided I was well off enough and headed back down. It wasnt the lovely stroll I imagined but it will do until I get another oportunity and even if I don't I managed to get there this time with great adversity.
We drove back to Beijing for lunch and the rest of the day. We saw the summer palace with all of the buildings and the lake with the dock. We wanted to find an ATM and a convenience store and we didn't find one until after dinner. Dinner was an event of its own. We went to a building with several Korean restaurants and we ended up in a small one and feasted on kimchi. Mostly at meals I tried to eat as many vegetables as possible but there seemed to be a lot of meat and not so much in the way of vegetables. After dinner there was a man with a table selling souvenirs outside the restaurant and my group went mad with buying stuff. I went downstairs and was surprised to find a gaming store on the way. Didn't expect to see that in China. One of my high school teachers was something of an expert on China and taught us many things about it but I wonder if she has gone recently. I doubt she would recognize it.
We did get to a convenience store that night. The credit card reader wasn't working so I had to borrow money from Younghwa. My nephew wanted this certain candy mint so I took all they had - about 12 of them, some chips and coffee and snacks. We got back early that night and so we packed our bags a little and went to bed early because two days of tearing around like this had taken its toll - we fell right to sleep.