December 29, 2012 : Beijing Day 3 : The Great Wall of China and Beijing Olympic Park

Our first stop was to a jade shop. Jade is the national stone of China. How do you tell real Jade from plastic ones? Weight, look at it under the light and you’ll see the imperfections of a stone, and scratch it against glass. Real Jade will not have any scratches on it since Jade is harder than almost all other stones besides Diamond. Jade carvers carve the stone with a diamond tip since diamond is the only stone that can cut through Jade.

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Then to the Great Wall we went! Most of the Globalites conquered the area of the wall we visited today: we climbed all the way to the top! Our tour guide said that it was 963 steps. I don’t know if that number is the sum of steps up and down or just up but after climbing all those steps, I’m pretty sure it was 963 up and 963 down. Sounds challenging right? It was nothing, 😛 I finished the climb in less than two hours while other Globalites were fast, but I’m not a hiker at all so that timeframe is pretty good for me! And, it was really fun. It was cold but I was sweaty halfway up and the view was totally worth it. The only down part was coming down since it was kind of slippery. I’d rather climb all those steps up twice or even three times than coming down once. It’s really bad for the knees.
The Great Wall is over 30,000 miles and we covered very little of it but it was amazing and I loved every minute of it. It is also said to be the longest cemetery in the world because during its construction, workers were buried around the wall.
I’d always wanted to see the Great Wall and having the opportunity to conquer it is an accomplishment of a life time! 

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The end of our climb!

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Couples lock these locks then throw the keys away to signify that they will never be apart. The red ribbons mean good-luck.

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Heck yea!

After the climb and after lunch, we went to see the Olympic Park. It was pretty awesome, I mean, Michael Phelps was here 😀

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Inside the Water Cube
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David Beckham

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The Water Cube is now a water park, I think.

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And the Bird Nest is just spectacular, and intimidating! Can you imagine walking through that thinking, “I might win a gold medal today.”
I think the Bird Nest is sometimes use for skiing today, if I remember correctly. 

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This is supposed to look like a dragon.

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Official Olympic dolls

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Inside the Bird Nest

Then for dinner we had Peking Duck. It’s a delicacy of Bejing and it was delicious. Chefs have to study for TWO years to learn how to cut the duck properly. It was a pretty great meal.
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First you have this thin flour pancake-like wrap then you take a few slices of the duck and dip it into some kind of Hoisin/Soy sauce type of thing then you add a few slices of spring onions on top then wrap it all up and EAT IT ALL! It’s sooo GOOD!

After the climb today, some of my friends and I tried ranking the wonders of the world that we saw on this trip and it was kind of difficult to do but I finally got my ranks:
3) Pyramids of Giza
2) Taj Mahal
1) The Great Wall

The Taj and the Great Wall were actually at the same rank for me since I was so in awe when I first laid eyes on the the Taj through the dark tunnel. I mean, it was just standing there looking so beautiful and breathtaking and I’d always wanted to see it but after I thought about it, I’d always wanted to see the Great Wall too and I especially love that the Great Wall requires effort to climb, hike, and challenges you to make it to the top. The view is so worth it as well. But the effort to climb the wall won me over. And speaking of challenge, I saw this at the great wall today and it’s totally appropriate for what I’m blabbing about now:image

Today was a superb day.
I hope yours was just as awesome!
-Thao 

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