The Great Wall
We drove into the country from Beijing. Not all of the Great Wall is still standing. Something like 3000 miles of wall was built originally. It follows the rise and fall of the hills, but now much of it has fallen into ruin. We visited a section of the wall call Badaling which has been rebuilt. It isn't commercialized like some of the sections we passed on the way here.
I climbed up to this watch tower and started up the next section, or rather down this part and up the next. We had blue sky out here away from the city smog. The climbing wasn't so bad, the steps are in pretty good shape, but I was intimidated by how steep it was. In places it was almost like climbing a ladder, and I experienced some vertigo from being up so high.
I had a pleasant walk down with another traveler. She was reading Wild Swan, a book about the cultural revolution. I had read LIfe and Death in Shanghai, a similar tale. We learned that both books are banned in China. Some sources indicated that the books accurately represent that dark period in Chinese history.
The Summer Palace
Both the Summer Palace and the Forbidden Palace are in Beijing. I always thought the royals went out to the Summer Palace to cool off for the summer. Maybe I just don't understand how far it is if you're being carried in a chair. Might seem like a long, exhausting journey.
Anyway, if I collected words to describe China, one of them would be ubiquitous.
This is a beautiful example. The blue and green are the colors of the sky and earth, thus colors used throughout all of the dynasties to show royalty. Whenever they built a new one, it was with the same designs, the same basic wood work, the same animal symbols. The same architecture and purpose.
The same theme runs with their modern structures: 20 story condos in beige. Hundreds upon thousands of them. Only the "tallest building in the world" has submitted to any unique artistry.
The Forbidden Palace
China has always had one of the largest populations. It seems to like to do huge. The Forbidden Palace is such a place; the vision was to make it large, wealthy, and intimidating. It succeeded. Like eunuchs are sort of intimidating to me. I don't know of another culture that willingly castrated its men in order to have a workforce that was not attracted to women.