Monday, January 21, 2008
The Great Mall of China
China has not yet left my consciousness. However, you must know that we have not eaten Chinese yet (it's been 11 days).
The Great Wall. It's like going to the Pyramids of Teotihuacan near Mexico City, but much harder to climb. If it was tough for the invaders to deal with it, I think it was tougher for the slaves who built it and for the poor soldiers who had to patrol it. They say that the mortar that holds together its bricks is mixed with the bones of the slaves that died building it. I can see how that would happen.
Of course, the minute you get there all you see is tour buses, and the people who comprise them are all going up and down the wall like ants, so your mind image of you standing atop the wall like Sir Edmund Hillary on Everest, is not to be. The worst part of the climb is actually at the beginning, which is inordinately steep and each step is like two feet high. I bitched and moaned all the way to the top, and the only reason I made it was the encouragement of my fellow tour members (those who didn't fold after the first ten steps) and that there was a sprightly English woman who must have been at least 70 years old bouncing up the wall as if it was a stroll in the park). So for reasons of amour propre to save face, and that great human motivator: " WTF do you see up there?", I went all the way to the top of that particular chunk of surviving wall. If it wasn't for all the tourists like me, it would be pretty amazing.
More amazing still, on the way down, which is not easy either, was to see a young Russian tourist coming down wearing 4 inch stilettos, tight jeans and an oversized leather bag. What on Earth could she have possibly been thinking? Was it, and while we're here, why don't we spontaneously swing by the Great Wall? Or maybe she heard wrong. Whatever the case, I now nominate the newly rich Russians for the Tackiest People on Earth Award (and believe me, the competition in this planet is fierce).