Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011 (at the Great Wall)

GREAT WALL: THE INTRODUCTION: Our first brush with the wall was at the Mutianyu section, which is northeast of Beijing. Neither Sandy nor I had ever seen the structure. The sunny day continued for us and the wall and its flowers looked, indeed, GREAT.
We rode up on a cable car. Leo (guide) pointed to a sign on the windshield of the cab that read, "THE SEVENTEENTH LIVING BUDDHA OF TIBET MAGEBA TOOK DESCENDING CABLE CAR ON JAN. 20TH, 1999." To him, this was a good omen.
This is a crisply repaired section of the wall. A stone tells something about the work:
"Once intended to ward off enemy attacks today it brings together the peoples of the world. The Great Wall, may it continue to act as a symbol of friendship for future generations.
"In gratitude for the help provide by the Henkel-Group, Dusseldorf, in restoring this section of the Wall, Beijing, May 1989"
On Sunday afternoon, we appreciated the right angles and smooth surfaces underfoot. We knew our next encounter with the Wall--on Monday--was to be on a less tame version of the structure.
To get down to the staging area, we rode a little sled down a metal chute. Fun and fast. Don't think it was there in case the Mongols broke through, though. And there was no need for the seventeenth living buddha of Tibet to take it. He descended in the cable car, and it was winter, anyway.

A WALL-TO-WALL VIEW: Our lodging in Mutianyu was spectacular. Through the living room windows we had a view of NOT JUST ONE WALL but TWO WALLS (right). One (far in the distance) was the fabled Great Wall. The other was the more familiar one (reputed by Robert Frost to be of the sort that supposedly makes good neighbors--unlike the fabled Great Wall). The house is actually in Yingbeigou village. The property includes forsythia, irises, day lilies, honeysuckle, roses, annuals, chestnuts, pines, a persimmon and a willow. This was, indeed, a choice location. We took note that there's a fairly large tub. That will come in handy for some muscle soaking expected Monday evening.

A NEW KIND OF CALENDAR: The Schoolhouse Canteen was a great place to eat in Mutianyu. This might be hard to read, but I took a picture of something written on a blackboard in the dining room. It gives a traditional farming calendar, presented a bit differently from our regular U.S. calendar and anything Hallmark has in mind. For example:
Feb. 4:Beginning of Spring
March 5: Waking of Insect
April 5: Pure Brightness
May 5: Beginning of Summer
Aug. 23: End of Heat.
Sept. 8: White Dew
Oct. 8: Cold Dew
Oct. 23: Frost's Descent.
Nov. 22: Lesser Snow
Dec. 7: Greater Snow
It was at the Schoolhouse. Glad they didn't test me on it.

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