March 31 - April 9: Michele and Alex visit Beijing!

Part III: The Great Wall at Simatai

Day 6

We went to see the Great Wall at Simatai. This section of the Great Wall in the far northeastern part of Beijing is the least "developed" part of the wall near Beijing. It has a reputation as one of the most beautiful parts of the Great Wall. It is not for the faint of heart, however, as it requires quite a bit of hiking and climbing to see the whole thing.

We hired a cab for the day to get to and from the wall; it's about a two and a half hour drive each way.

Our first look at the Great Wall at Simatai, from a distance.
We talked to this nice old man, who scoops horse poop, on the way up the mountain. He wasn't trying to sell us anything, how refreshing.

There is a small reservior, and plenty of breathtaking vistas, at Simatai.

Up and up and up...I don't think that Michele's orthopedist would approve of this.

More up and up and up ...

At a spot where the wall levels off.

Inside (and outside) one of the 12 watch towers along the way.

Hey up there!

This was basically the end of the line. Past this point the wall becomes very narrow and treacherous. There were policemen stationed here to stop visitors from proceeding further.
But three girls managed to convince one of the policemen to let them go further, and having trekked more than two hours on the way up, we weren't about to let this opportunity pass by, so we (Bryan and Alex) tagged along as well. Nancy stayed behind with Michele, whose foot cast prohibited this quest into no-man's land.


Here are Bryan and Alex at the furthest point. Past here the wall has crumbled in parts and is extremely dangerous, with sheer cliffs on either side. They declined to risk any further progress.

Bryan looks stylish in his sun hat.

Alex is somewhere way back there. He stayed behind for some quiet medidation.

Going down is much easier than coming up.

Inside a watch tower on the way down. Check out the Great Wall in the distance. Nancy poses in the shadows.

Michele brought her Digital ELPH camera also - here's a shot of Nancy using it.

Here is a fantastic panorama of the Great Wall at Simatai taken by Nancy.

Smaller, but still impressive, vista shots.

Here's the happy couple ...
... and part of the happy group ...
... here's Alex by himself ...
... finally! - here's all of us together.
A last look back at the wall.
At the bottom we met up again with our old friend.
We decided to take a quicker way down the mountain - sliding down a cable that crosses the reservoir. That tiny speck in the distance is Alex!
Next up was Michele.
There goes Nancy ... hope she doesn't pop out of her oversized harness.
Whew! Bryan made it too!

Dinner was at another Tian Wai Tian Roast Duck Restaurant. This time we had another whole Beijing Roast Duck, cashew chicken, some preserved cabbage with soybeans, and a soup of fatty pork, bean vermicelli, and cabbage.

Alex, Michele and Bryan are enjoying the day's pictures.

Day 7

Nancy and Michele went to visit with Michele's great-aunts and great-uncle. Earlier in the day they went to Carrefour to pick up some goodies for Michele to take home to the U.S. Then, it was off to the flower store to buy an orchid for Michele's relatives. They found a beautiful orchid! Then they headed to her great-aunt's place just south of where Bryan and Nancy live. Her great-aunt treated us to hawthorne fruit roll up candy and afterwards she took us to see the remains of Michele's grandparents' home near the Xidan Shopping Center. Then, they headed off to Michele's other great-aunt's home. After a little chit-chatting, they all went to dinner together at a very good sichuan restaurant.

Alex spent the day visiting a temple and a mosque and hanging out with a Chinese monk.

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