Great Wall and chicken.

5 08 2008

The wall was great. Five of us hired a tour to take us on the 70km trip to Mutianyu. Once you get to the wall, there’s a pretty steep walk, probably half a mile, straight up hill. There’s a cable car from there to the wall, or you could walk. Before we got there, I swore I would walk it.

I changed my mind.

Manahan and Mills walked up with a video camera. Manish, Politi and I took the cable car. Clearly, we made the better decision. Here’s why. Once you actually get to the wall, it’s still a heck of a hike. Up and down hills on rocky terrain. Sprained ankle territory. We walked a good distance from the cable car, maybe a mile. The other two guys just made it to where the cable car dropped us off. Maybe they walked a little farther than us, but if you asked them, you’d think they scaled Everest.

The wall was pretty cool, but the walk down was even better. The steep slope is lined with little tents that act as shops. You can’t walk 2 feet without being harassed “t-shirt, one dollar!” Shirts that said “I climbed the Great Wall” But they were lying. I didn’t buy a t-shirt, but I did buy a set of chopsticks. Hand carved, she said. Probably BS, but they were cool. I should win a medal for bartering. I paid 20CNY (about $3) for the 5 pairs of chopsticks. The woman was trying to sell them for 280CNY ($42USD) but I wasn’t crazy. I kept walking away, she kept lowering the price, 140, 100, 50, 30. So I showed her a 20CNY bill. She looked defeated, but took the money and handed me the box of sticks. Uncle Eddie would be proud. But I know if he were here, he probably would have got them for 10. I felt better when our guide Steven agreed that I got a good deal

We stopped at a roadside restaurant on the way back to Beijing. Stephen ordered. Quite the ordeal. He ran some suggestions by us. Beef with five flavors, chicken stewed in mushrooms, spicy green beans, Chairman Mao’s favorite pork, and some sort of lamb dish. Oh, and fish. A local fish that he struggled to find an english translation for, but compared it to cod. Oh, and plain white rice for Manish. I think it’s the only thing he’s eaten in 3 days. So we place the order. Minutes later, our waitress walks across the parking lot. She had a big 3 pound fish hanging from a hook in her hands. Seriously, she walked across the parking lot, caught our lunch, then walked it to the kitchen right in front of us. I wish I had a photo of it.

The food was great. By far the best meal we’ve had here, and I think the food has been pretty good. The lamb and the green beans were just awesome. The chicken, tasty. I dug in for what looked like a hunk of the leg, so I moved it to my bowl. I repositioned it in my chopsticks, and looked for a way to attack it, then I noticed something.

It was not a leg.