Saturday, March 26, 2011

Green Tea Oreos on the Great Wall

Green Tea Oreos on the Great Wall

Yesterday we went to the Great Wall with an impromptu international group: a young woman named Noel from South Africa, Georg and Sven from Sweden, Brangelina and us. We all shared a van up to the Great Wall near Huang Hua Cheng. Our driver, Mr. Pei, managed to negotiate a smooth mountain road that would routinely be clogged up by motorized trikes and markets squeezing two-lanes into one. There's nothing to compare with watching open-air dentistry competing with butcher sales on a flatbed while two gigantic trucks come from opposite directions negotiating the narrow gap left between.

This is the same part of the wall that Myra wrote about in her blog. It was spectacular. The weather was perfect, blue skies and just a slight chill in the air. We saw no other people the whole trip, which lasted 3 and half hours. It was so steep at times, I was crawling on all fours. So steep, if I were on skis I would have been snowplowing. Unlike Myra's adventure, there was no lady with an axe at the ladder. The ladder was scary enough as it was.

At the top, which felt like the top of the world, we shared a lunch break of apples, crackers, green tea Oreos and beer. I don't think we'll be seeing green tea Oreos at a US Walmart, but you can get them here at the Chinese Walmart. Interesting and very green.
Climbing down was one of those moments I kept thinking, "If my mom could see what I am doing right now…" Don't worry Mom, I was really careful. Ernst and I did great, always bringing up the rear, but we did the whole part we planned.

When we got to the end, we had to cross into the Gates of Dog Hell. This man has all these chained and crazed dogs strategically placed to scare people and then he makes you pay to pass through the gates. Our Chinese speakers negotiated, but I didn't really care how much we paid, I would have given him a wad of cash just to put those pathetic dogs out of their misery. Our price to get out was 10 kuai, about $1.60 each.  It would have been so totally satisfying to say "Forget it Dog Man, we are walking back to Axe Lady and we won't pay your exit fee."

After we returned from our adventure, I got my hair cut. The guy kept asking me how I wanted it, and I just kept saying Da, dar putin, (yes, but not too much) my Romanian kept jumping in. It turned out really cute, but the way he fixed it was funny, my bangs looked just like his. The cut cost $2. What a deal. I got another massage tonight, the same guy as last time. He asked Angelina why my shoulders are so tight. I don't have a Chinese feel to my muscles. He said I felt 40 years old (he is blind). I bet he says that to all the women who feel close to 50!

So much more to write, but that is all for now.