wan li chang chung and more

Today we went to the Great Wall at Mutianyu–less crowded than the more popular (and closer) area at Badaling. The surrounding area was gorgeous–mountains, flowers, small villages. The wall itself was incredible. Stairs are alternatingly steep and then smaller and wider without any pattern. Perhaps it was due to building materials, but anyone running on the wall would be slowed by that. The wall was not built for the disabled or the out of shape. Would have enjoyed it more if it weren’t hotter than Hades, either. It must have been hell for the people who had to build it, esp in that weather. On the way down, we rode in a cable car that Clinton rode in when he visited Mutianyu in 1998!
Then we went to the Summer Palace, frequented especially by Empress Cixi, an enterprising concubine-turned ruler. It was beautiful, but the construction, the crush of people and the heat made it less enjoyable. We did have a 8 kuai (one $) boat ride, which was nice. Topped off the day by having a swim in the hotel’s gorgeous pool.
Yesterday went to Factory 798, a cluster of contemporary art galleries in factory buildings. Many galleries have closed, due to government’s desire to screw up the land essentially, but the art in the galleries (and outside) was awesome! Had dinner at a Chinese restaurant close to the Advanced technology Center, and tried multiple dishes–my favorites were the Chinese mashed potatoes and the Szechuan Duck.
Tomorrow we’re off to see a temple in a remote part of Beijing, and do some last minute shopping. Early Monday am it’s time to fly home. While it’s always nice to be home, I’ve really enjoyed this trip, and am grateful for the privilege of having come here.
BTW–the nursing home is actually more like a senior living complex. We were told there were no nursing homes in China like their American counterparts. In China, families are expected to take care of their parents. Even senior centers are not looked at too kindly, and we were told that people talked badly about those who did not take care of their parents. The one child policy adds to the burden, as care cannot be shared. The divorce rate in cities is about 30%, so that adds another wrinkle in obtaining housing for aging parents. In remarriages, some offspring refuse to “recognize” their parents’ spouse. Within the next several years, the elderly population is expected to rise to 14%. Another thing to watch unfold here in the years to come.
All for now–Aimee & Kelly

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