Saturday, May 03, 2008

How not to see the Great Wall

Well, we've quite possibly ruined the Great Wall for our kids. We've been talking it up to them, reviewing the history, reminding them that "Bu dao Chang Cheng fei hao han" (whoever has not climbed the Great Wall is not a real man). All in an effort to encourage them to want to drive an hour and a half from where we're staying in China to climb a wall.

We awoke to the haziest day I've seen in a very long time. Visibility at about 1/4 mile. Not good. We hired a woman to drive us to the Wall. Ethan set his new watch to timer and started counting down. He still thinks that if I say "it takes an hour and a half" that we will arrive in precisely 90 minutes. I was praying that the haze would lift, or at least be less at the Wall. Forty five minutes into our drive, it started to rain. That wasn't what I had in mind.

It had stopped by the time we got to the Wall, but the clouds looked mean. We bought tickets to take the chair lift up and the alpine slide down. As we touched down at the top, the thunder and lightning began in earnest. Rain we can manage, but thunder and lightning when you're on the highest, most open spot around we cannot. We squeezed into one of the towers with all the other poor fools who chose today for their Great Wall adventure. We ate our snacks. We took some pictures. The rain stopped so we ran to the next tower after tying Megan's adult size rain poncho around her waist. How can someone look so adorable in a five kuai rain poncho?

They stopped the chair lift after we got off, and the alpine slide was out of the question (it was more of a water slide at that point). When they did reopen it, we joined the long queue of people regretting their Great Wall trip. We found our driver and headed for the nearest McDonald's so as to salvage our journey and ensure the possibility that one day, when we say, "Hey kids, you want to go back to the Great Wall?" they won't scream and run.

Oh well. We've seen it before, and the kids really had great attitudes (it's amazing how much easier it is when the parents maintain good ones too). Pictures to follow.

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