My first trip to China has been pretty amazing. My Beijing colleagues are incredibly hospitable and smart. My expectations have been exceeded in every way. I definitely need to come back soon, and I would love the Fry Family Quartet to join me. I think they would especially enjoy the trip to the Great Wall that I made today.
Five of my American colleagues and I hired a driver to get us to a mountainous portion of the Great Wall about 2 hours outside of Beijing. From the parking lot we took a chairlift to the mountain ridge along which the wall runs. Once at the top, we definitely got our exercise climbing and descending the 500-year-old steps. The ride up and and views from the top were spectacular.
Even better than the chairlift ride up was how we got back down the mountain: on a metal toboggan track that zipped us down at a pretty good clip. Once I get out of the country, I’ll post the video I took of the ride down (China blocks access to YouTube).
I had some great travel companions, who provided some good laughs along the way. One of my colleagues, who will remain nameless, got pretty chummy with the driver while he sat shotgun in the van. He was asking all kinds of questions about China and the Great Wall. At one point, he asked the driver if there were any Samurais left. The rest of us looked at each other, trying to hold back laughter. I leaned forward and said, “um, [nameless colleague], Samurais were in Japan. We’re in China.” Not sure we did much to combat the ugly American stereotype with that question.
Next stop: Singapore. Pretty sure there are no Samurai there, either.