Beijing. Tuesday, September 30.
Tomorrow is the big day: The wedding of Andrew Feldman and Caren Zhou, and the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Red Flags are flying everywhere, and the mood is festive.
This afternoon the group went to the Qianmen shopping area that Kent and I had visited on our first day of exploring, and the pedestrianized Wangfujing Dajie shopping street that makes the grand boulevards of London, Paris, and New York look tired. Here were posh hotels, and flashy designer-label shops (Prada, Gucci, Apple, Cartier and others), as well as a foreign language bookstore and Tesla cars. Just south of this area was a crowded traditional "food street" featuring, among other items, skewers of scorpions (both wiggling and roasted), snakes and squid.
Our morning was totally occupied by our first expedition via the subway to pick up our train tickets for next week. It was an adventure, full of frustrations, and involved three different subway lines, but we did manage to get our tickets and get back to our hotel in under 4 hours. Maybe the $50 fee we would have paid for ticket delivery to our hotel wasn't so outrageous. We now know that getting to the Western Railway Station on October 8 and to the early morning start for the Great Wall camping expedition on October 4 will not be simple.
Yesterday we visited the Great Wall at Juyongguan Pass, and several of us climbed all the way up to the Beacon lookout. I'm not sure how high, or how many uneven steps it was, but my legs are feeling it today. We could see people climbing straight up the snaking wall like a row of ants to what we thought was the highest point, but when we reached that height we saw that the actual top was almost equally far above and beyond. So, hot and panting, we continued on, with crowds diminished the higher we went. It was great to be out in the country in the fresh air, and there were some lovely views of the wild China mountain landscape.
A cold front blew in today, and we donned sweaters and jackets.