TRAVEL: South Waltoner's adventure across China

Published: Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 12:48 PM.

Arriving at the base we could look about a half mile up and figured we all would find this relatively easy. NOT SO. The first half consisted of a gentle slope that we thought would bring us to the Wall. But this was where our being in “better hands” proved to be a necessity.

We had a 45 degree climb to a rickety-at-best ladder with a partial hand rail to get us into the watch tower on the Wall. Even the youngest, most athletic individuals had to struggle to get into this guard house, and many of us definitely needed the assistance of strong arms.

But making it was well worth the view, as far as one could see both east and west. It was easy to imagine why, approximately 2,000 years ago, the famous general Meng Tian began what through the years was to become a 5,500 mile wall to repel marauding tribes.

We returned to Beijing exhilarated but weary. Interestingly, though all were expecting the infamous smog of that great city, we encountered none and saw only a few persons wearing protective masks. My pharmacist had sent me with enough to weather the entire trip! One of our group, who had been there years before, noted that previously she could not see so much as two feet in front of her. Chinese officials avow they are cleaning the air, just as we here are striving so desperately to do. Evidently they are succeeding.

After braving the wall and returning, we barely had time to freshen ourselves before we were taken to a restaurant for the famous Chinese dish, Peking Duck. But ours tasted more like South Walton Rooster; it must have been an off night for this particular eatery.

Oh, and why did I say we were exploring “The Rooster and Tibet”? Hu had told us that “everyone thinks the map of China looks like a rooster, with the egg at the bottom being Taiwan.” Well none of us thought so — and do not even mention the impossibility that a rooster could lay an egg — but throughout the trip we saw numerous references to the “Rooster” that supposedly was China. We just laughed.

More to follow next week.

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