Paige Larson: Sep 10th in Beijing
And the sun has returned with a vengence - blazing hot and not a cloud in the sky! Athletics had the morning off so I went with the staff to the Great Wall! Now I know why they say people "climb" the Great Wall - it is not flat and is pretty much continuous stairs - for miles and miles and miles! The steps are all irregular, often slanted to the left or right. The rise of the stairs varies from a couple on inches to probably 14 inches. There were parts that I had to go down backwards, as with my real love of heights I could not do it seeing how high we were and how far I would fall if I tripped (always thinking about injuries!!). There are little house type things along the way, which were sometimes 2 stories high. There was nothing really in them, but they were mercifully cool. Even on the Wall, commercialism has come and there were people selling drinks actually on the Wall. We did take a ski lift up to the Wall - the walk took about 20 minutes and we were tight for time, plus there were enough stairs as it was! There was also a gondola you could take. Getting down was much faster as we took one of those luge rides that you go in the little cart with the brack handle between your legs. It was really fun, and the wind was very refreshing.
On the way back we stopped at a pottery and jade factory. They were making the glazed pottery there. An artist draws a design for the pot (or whatever piece - Christmas ornament, ear rings, etc.)It is done with copper wire glued by hand on to pot. The colours are added, again by hand, with paint in eye droppers. The pots are then dried and glazed. They are fired 7 or 8 times in a very primitive kiln, and then polished. The jade is carved by hand and with small cutting (?) wheels. The pieces are fairly expensive, but the labour is obviously very intense. There were also a number of wood carvings for sale there, including one for over $1 million. Pretty cool stuff all around.
The whole trip we went on with 7 of us in 2 cabs. We paid 180 RMB (they say yuan) which is $30, and we were gone for about 6 hours. The part of the Wall that we went to was about an hour drive from the Village, which is in the north end of Beijing. I got the name of the taxi driver from someone on the plane here and called him up the night before. He and his brother came in their cabs. They cater to the airline staff, so are very good to deal with as they like the reputation to build and keep them busy. All in all a great trip!
Then off to the track where Dean Bergeron won gold in the 200 meters, and Chantal Petitclerc won gold in the 100 meters, both in their wheelchair classes. It was an excellent end to the day with only a few treatments needed.
More medals will surely follow - Bye from Beijing! Paige