First of all, just VISITING China was high on my bucket list.
Growing up in rural Wisconsin, the thought of visiting China was as alien to me as the UFO’s are now. Besides, I was a little embarrassed to visit because I had wasted some Brussel sprouts (still can’t eat them) and was scolded for wasting food because the people in China were starving. Had anyone starved because I didn’t eat my sprouts?
Here are a few more things that I can check off my bucket list.
Trudged up the Great Wall like the ancient Chinese warriors. Yes, I said trudged. I literally had to pull myself up using the hand railings because the ramp was at least at a 30 degree angle. Number One thinks it is a 30 degree angle. I swear it was at least a 45 or 50 degree angle. The steps were uneven. Some were a few inches high and then some were two feet high. They had to have been used by very tall people–another misconception that I had–I thought the Chinese were short. The highest point is 3,330 feet above sea level–I got to the top!
The view at the top was amazing. I was watching ancient history come to life as it trailed over the mountains at great heights and flowed with simple elegance. I was entranced by the beauty.
The Great Wall, to the Chinese, can be compared
to Mecca, for the devout Muslims. The number of people on that wall that day was in the thousands, and it wasn’t even a holiday or in summer. It was in November!
This wall has such significance that Mao Zedong said, “He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man.”
I guess I am now a true man.
Sipped tea at an authentic Chinese Tea Ceremony. There are two types of pots for the tea. One is to brew it and one is to serve it to guests. They do not use the teapot with the spout to serve, they use a small pitcher to pour the tea. I learned you need to wash Jasmine tea before you make it. You must also pour hot water over the tea pot to prepare it. They women splash and pour between the two containers to get the tea to the right temperature. It is pretty complicated. I think I might stick with my one pop of the can of Diet Coke.
This is the tray, pots and cups that they use. Another sure-fire way to see if the water is hot enough is to pour the hot water over “pee boy.” If he starts peeing, the water is just right.
I rode a two hump camel. Now, I can say that I have ridden a one hump and a two hump camel. It looks as if you can use one of the humps as a makeshift handle to get onto the beast, but that hump just wiggles all over and it actually is more of a hindrance than help to getting onto the camel. You need to fit between the two humps. Ok, I got onto the camel, but the owner had to give my backside a boost. Once the picture was taken, there was no way I could get off that creature. I finally called to Number One so he could push my right foot up high enough so my left foot would slide down the other side. It was not a graceful mount nor dismount, but I can check riding camels off my bucket list.
I rode the one hump camel in Egypt in 1983.
I rode the two hump camel in China 2017.
It took 34 years to accomplish this feat, but I did it!
The largest palace in the world is “The Forbidden City.” It sounds really ominous, almost scary. It was forbidden for anyone other than the royal family to enter. This palace, which is the size of a city, housed the emperor, his family, which could be 500 or more children, his 1000 concubines, his wife, and his mother. Luckily the mother and the wife each had separate buildings. The number of buildings is astonishing as well as the artwork. On the roof, mythical creatures of the sea were carved and placed to protect the palace. However, lightning struck and burned a building. They learned from the Americans that lightning rods do a better job of protecting than mythical creatures.
The Summer Palace is on an island surrounded by a beautiful lake. It would be easier to see if the Beijing SMOG was not so heavy.
I loved the city of Beijing. We stayed three days, but by then I could feel the smog clogging up my lungs. The Chinese have plans to fix it, but it will take some time.
The Terra Cotta Warriors. These warriors were supposed to be the emperors army in the afterlife. They were made larger than life. Each facial expression is different and the warriors displayed their rank by their shoes. The higher the tip of the toes on the shoes, the higher the rank. You can read anything you want into that, but that was the way it was. This Emperor was 13 when he took power and was not very nice–like most teenagers at 13– and the people didn’t like him. So, after he died, they raided his tomb of all the valuables and smashed his warriors. These warriors have been waiting to fight since about 250 BC. Luckily, in 1974 a young farmer discovered these warriors by accident. He was digging a well and found what he thought was a ghost in front of him. No ghost, just an ancient warrior. The farmer now can sign his name on coffee table books. He was not able to write anything when he found the warriors. The tour guide said he is very old now. Number One and I think he is younger than we are.
Japan is not that far away from China. Number One had a conference in northern Japan. Once it was finished, I was able to check off one more item on my bucket list.
Growing up right after WWII, Japan was not on the favored list of countries to visit for anyone in the country, so I was sure I would never visit a country that had attacked us. Well, I did. And, I am glad.
There are so many vistas of one special place in Japan, and that is Mount Fuji. Yes, I went to the seventh station of Mount Fuji. It looks like the mountain has snow at the top, but it is actually sun glinting off the ice which gives it a white color. This mountain, of course, is a volcano with an interesting shape. It is almost symmetrical with gentle slopes on each side.
After exploring far-away places filled adventure and intrigue, we get to come home to reality in sunny, Carlsbad, California!