I arrived in China on Saturday for research and was instantly reminded how lucky I am to live in the US and in a country where there are no restrictions. I have no Facebook access or any other social media access. Many US news sites are blocked. All sorts of random sites are blocked. In January the government cracked down on the VPNs that many foreigners and locals used to get around the government censorship. It’s very locked down. And yet, Beijing is a hub of commercialism and capitalism in many ways. Wangfujing Street where my hotel is located is lined with high end shops like Prada, Apple and Tiffany amid the requisite tourist shops. It’s very much a contradiction in terms — shop, please spend lots of money, but just don’t express yourself freely and don’t rock the boat.
On Sunday, I braved the 90 degree temps and got up early for a two hour trip out to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. It really is spectacular. Mutianyu is a heavily wooded and mountainous section of the wall, build in the early Ming Dynasty under Emperor Zhu YuanZhang. It is celebrating is 610 year anniversary. The government has made various repairs so that the public can walk along it safely after years of neglect, most recently in 1980s. The highest part of the wall in this section is 1000 meters and they say that the wall in this section resembles a flying dragon.
I took a gondola up from the base of the wall to near tower 14 and began the wall along the wall. According to my pedometer, I climbed the equivalent of 49 floors as I moved from tower to tower. Below is a selection of photos from the wall. I had a lovely guide named Vivian from Intrepid Urban adventures that kept me company and shot some great photos of me. (Being behind the camera I rarely manage to get photos of myself.) We had a small group of 5 people that came to the wall.
I may or may not be able to post again from my hotel later this week. For some reason, I cannot access my own Web site from the hotel, but I can from the facility. It’s very odd. I may try a special newsletter addition for additional photos, so stay tuned.