Random rambles in no particular order:
– The Great Wall really is MASSIVE! Not that I need to repeat that, everyone knows it’s the only manmade structure on earth that is visible from the moon – which is actually a myth! (Thanks Mosh.) But well, it’s still gigantic. The fact that the whole thing was built only across the highest peaks of the mountains (for defence purposes, obviously) makes it a huge challenge to walk along the top. More like The Great Staircase of China to me. Hence “climb the wall”, definitely not “walk” it.
We spent 2 hours to travel only about 2km in total, across many sections that were 45 degrees steep. There were steps in some places, while others were just frightening slopes. So you’d spend a lot, A LOT!!!, of time staring at the stone path. Saw a few people slipped and fell, especially young kids. Very dangerous, particularly downhill! I was hanging on to the railing along the way for dear life, all the time wondering why there wasn’t any helicopter tours out there, the view would be breathtaking and they would for sure make bucket-loads of dosh! Now THAT’s an idea for Chinese businesses. I’m offering it for free, see?
– Beijing’s good, Shanghai’s ok, but Xi’an is an absolute gem! Wish we’d had a lot more time there. (Thanks to my lovely cousin H., with her fantastic sense of travel, who’d recommended a great list of all things to do.) Highlight of our stay in Xi’an must have been the 13km bike ride around the top of the ancient city wall. At sunset! This protective wall was originally built some 2200 years ago, with newer sections dated back to at least 600 years! And it’s the only ancient city wall in China that’s still fully intact.
Anyway so A. and I decided to rent one of those tandem bikes, which according to my friend T., are devilishly tricky to navigate, and hence to be avoided at all cost UNLESS you want a reason to claw your partner’s eyes out. So I’m proud to say that our 2-hour ‘Tour de… Wall’, despite being extremely bumpy physically, went rather smoothly in the emotional sense, and thankfully all of our eyeballs remained intact. Although I did get a little grumpy simply because one’s bum can only take so much bouncing on a hard bike seat on a potholed road.
This is totally going to show how much of a dance freak I am, but I attributed our “joined success” to the lead/follow dynamics of dancing. I.e. the follow (on the back seat) should always pedal half a step behind the lead (on the front seat) so you can react in time when he brakes or stops pedalling. Also, NO back-leading allowed! The handles on the back seat are there only to help you keep balance, all the steering of the bike must be done by the person at the front. So after about 10 minutes I took both my hands off the handles and started taking photos.
– Talking about photos, they’re all with A. and he has a few more stops to make on his trip, so I’ll have to wait another 3 weeks to get hold of them. I miss them, you know. Them. The photos.
~to be continued at a later stage… on some other day… well actually, whenever this lazy ass gets in the mood to write again~