That’s a really great wall

After a night of on-and-off sleeping, I got up around 8 and started getting ready for a day of being a tourist. In my email was a copy of a Wall Street Journal article about Ticketmaster’s entry into China. Now the world knows what we’re up to. One thing I found interesting was the statement about how after we did ticketing for the last summer games in Athens, we closed up shop in Greece and went home, because after the Olympics there were not enough venues with enough events to sustain our kind of business. But here in Beijing, the government is very keen to keep using all these facilities they’re building for years to come, giving us a potential market of hundreds of millions of customers (counting only the growing middle class as they did in the article).

As I write this, I’m killing time waiting for D to come online on Skype. We’re hoping this nifty free software will help us keep in touch, along with all the emails we’ve been exchanging. For some of my other friends I’ve been using Trillian, chatting mostly on AIM. KW was talking at dinner lat night about how they got a webcam to use with Skype.


It’s a drive of a bit over an hour to get to Badaling, a very popular section of the Great Wall near Beijing. The city itself sits in a large flat valley, with mountains rising suddenly up to the north. A nice modern freeway goes all the way out to Badaling, and beyond.

There’s a big fancy gate here, and the driver dropped us off just outside of it. Given its proximity to the city, it’s a very popular tourist destination, very crowded, especially on a day as lovely as this one. I’ve probably mentioned before that the sky here is almost never blue. A normal day is grayish-tan above, and hazy below, and buildings ten blocks away can be hard to see. The weather today was absolutely stunning.

Entrance costs a reasonable 45RMB (something like $7.25). We skipped the museum and headed straight for the wall. This section dates from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and has been restored within the last thirty years. We also skipped the cable car, opting to do things the old fashioned way.

It was especially crowded up one side from the entrance, so we turned the other way, where fewer people went. As you can see, the terrain is quite rugged, and the Wall follows it up and down, resulting in some very steep hiking.

Did I say “hiking”? Climbing might be more accurate. At some places, the walkway at the top goes from smooth stone to steps, and even to what is nearly a ladder.

We were making our way to a particular tower we could see from the entrance. It looked like a good place to get a high vantage, which it was, but getting there was quite the cardio workout. I’m sure our leg muscles will be sore the next few days. This might have something to do with why this section was less crowded.

At the guard tower, the view was a good as we expected. We continued just a little past it to get a good view beyond. With binoculars, we could see sections ahead that didn’t seem to be open to the public, and had not yet been restored.

Among the many interesting sights were impractical footwear choices.

After all that walking and climbing, we were quite ready for chairs, food, and beverages. We picked one of a number of restaurants outside the gate and had a tolerable meal indifferently served. But it included three big (600ml!) bottles of Tsingtao as compensation.

We called for the driver, and headed back for the city. Along the way we passed the building that will house our permanent office. It will be the new home of some parts of the Gehua conglomerate (if that’s the right word), and as Gehua is part of our joint venture, we get part of the fifth floor of the G-Box, nicknamed for obvious reasons. It will be a welcome step up from the Huabei building where we are now.

That was quite an afternoon. It’s hard to imagine how remote the Great Wall was to visitors from the West who came to China in the early 20th Century, before the Revolution, and how accessible it is now.

From the hotel, I walked over to the Wonderful Digital Jungle and bought a USB card reader for the camera’s compact flash cards for 50RMB ($8), then stopped in at 7-11 for something to drink. I picked out a bottle that looked like tea, and was happy to discover it was unsweetened. So many of the drinks I’ve had here were very sugary. Still full from lunch, I’ve opted for just a little snack instead of a full meal.

Oddly enough, while I can post to this journal, I can’t look at the completed pages. It seems that all blogspot.com addresses are inaccessible from here. Maybe some other blogger here wrote something the government did not approve of, and they’ve blocked it. Or maybe it’s some technical glitch. In any case, I click the Publish button and hope for the best.

No comments:

Post a Comment