Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Crescent Lounge

Peaceful morning at the Regent Beijing. Our hiking adventure along the Great Wall has come to an end. Last night we dined on Imperial cuisine in Beihai Park before retiring to the comfort and elegance of the Regent. Looking forward to the next adventure!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mutianyu Great Wall

We finished today's hike at the Mutianyu Great Wall, another restored section of the wall. At hike's end, the descent from the wall to the valley floor was accomplished quickly via a toboggan.

Jiankou Great Wall

The Jiankou Great Wall threads its way along this craggy ridgeline. Can you believe it? We're looking at it and can hardly believe its there! We're on our way to the Mutianyu section of the wall.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Approaching Gubeikou

Here's the final stretch of the wall before reaching Gubeikou village. The section of wall between Jinshanling and Gubeikou traverses more gentle terrain than the Simatai to Jinshanling section so the ridge-top undulations of the "trail" are less severe.

Jinshanling Great Wall

Another perfect day! We are trekking along the wall from Jinshanling to Gubeikou. The "Tower with Five Holes" is to the left in the picture.

The Ming Wall

The section of the wall from Simatai to Jinshanling was largely constructed in the 15th and 16th centuries during the Ming Dynasty. It's an impressive feat of architecture and walking along it is a thrilling experience!

Simatai to Jinshanling

Fabulous weather again on our hike from Simatai to Jinshanling. We walked on the wall itself for most of the distance.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Huangyaguan Great Wall - Unrestored

The second part of the hike was along an unrestored section of the Huangyaguan Great Wall. We hiked alongside the remnants of the wall on a good path portions of which traversed old farming terraces. The hardwood forests and rolling hills reminded me of the Blue Ridge in the fall. The remains of watch towers stood as testimony that this section of wall was once a much grander edifice.

Huangyaguan Great Wall - Restored

From Huangyaguan ("Yellow Crag Pass"), the Great Wall ascends steeply into the mountains on either side. The wall here is beautifully restored and quite impressive to behold! At the end of the restored section west of the pass, we came upon the "Heaven's Ladder," a steeply ascending stone staircase that carried us to the top of the crags that frame the pass of Huangyaguan.

Food as Art

Every meal's a spectacle! In Beijing, we dined on "squirrel fish," a fried fish smothered in sweet and sour sauce and made up to resemble, well, a squirrel! Our lunch in Zunhua near the Eastern Qing Tombs was decorated with a melon sculpture. On the menu were spicy shrimp, fish with pork and Chinese cabbage, fish head stew with pancakes, pork with green onions, fried pear and red bean dumpling. A feast!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

En route to Qing Dong Ling

From our hotel in Qinghuangdao, we hopped on the Jingshen Expressway heading for the Qing Dong Ling ("Eastern Qing Tombs"). Six lanes and high speed from Qinghuangdao all the way to Beijing! Due to road construction activities near the town of Zunhua, we took a detour passing through small villages...a glimpse of rural China!

Dusk Falling on the Great Wall

Evening light burnishes the stone towers along the Dongjiakou Great Wall as we descend toward the village of Chengzhiyu.

On the Wall Again

Another view of the Dongjiakou Great Wall. The autumn colors enhance the scene.

Watch Tower

A close-up of one of the watch towers on the Dongjiakou Great Wall.

Dongjiakou Great Wall

Today was a crystal clear day as we walked the wall at Dongjiakou. Here, the descendants of the wall-builders still live; they maintain the access paths and path atop the wall for visitors. This is a lovely and less-frequented section of the wall.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Nearing Sandaoguan

The Great Wall snakes along the ridges as we near the end of our day's hike at Sandaoguan. The mountains are grand and lovely with great slabs and pillars of granite. They are mountains whose beauty is at the level you'd expect in a national park! The autumn colors are wonderful! Note the watch tower at the upper right of the picture. That's where we're headed!

Jiao Shan Great Wall

Today we hiked the Jiao Shan Great Wall to Sandaoguan. The first hour of the hike was along a restored section of the wall that ascended steeply up about half way up the peak of Jiao Shan. This portion of the wall looks like the wall most people imagine when they hear the term "Great Wall"--brick surfaces, watch towers with crenellations. Most of the wall, however, is "wild," and unrestored and in various states of repair. Here's wilder section we traversed en route to Jiao Shan. Walking on this section of the wall is not like walking on a sidewalk; it's a true hike by any definition!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wall Walking

After the visit to Laolongtou we started our hike on the wall--the segment from Laolongtou to Shanhaiguan. On this segment the wall is a grassy berm rising up to 30 feet above the surrounding agricultural fields.

Old Dragon's Head

Our journey along the Great Wall started today at Laolongtou ("Old Dragon's Head") where the wall plunges into the Bohai Sea. Sunny skies, clear water, and the smell of the sea!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Temple of Heaven

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests dominates the Temple of Heaven complex. This building was erected in 1889 using Ming construction techniques after the original 1420 structure was destroyed after a lightning strike.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Forbidden City

The Hall of Supreme Harmony as seen from the Gate of Supreme Harmony. The Forbidden City is magnificent! Truly a city unto itself! You can wander here for an entire day and not get everywhere.

Tiananmen Square

The Gate of Heavenly Peace seen from Tiananmen Square. A beautiful day and the crowds were out! Prime Minister Putin is in town.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sunny day in Beijing

Sunlight floods the lobby of the Regent Hotel. Windy, clear and cool outside...a perfect day!


Good morning Beijing! View from the Regent at intersection of Jinbao Jie and Dongdan Beidajie.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

CA 992 YVR to PEK

The Air China Airbus 330 preparing for the long haul to Beijing. It's a gorgeous day in Vancouver. All the mountains are visible! What a day to fly!