Seeing the Big Stuff
The Chinese love their holidays. Since we’ve been here we’ve gone through several, and each one is a cross-country celebration involving lanterns, family and food. Although to be honest, it’s China, and every day is a celebration involving lanterns, family and food. The last such holiday was what is referred to locally as the “Golden Week,” where for around 10 days everything stops and the cities become packed with people, a jump from 23 million to at least 40 million. I know what you’re thinking, I have no idea where they come from either, although I suspect they just pop out of the ground like Trout Lilies in the spring.
I don’t know why, but for this beautiful week of gold, we decided to go to the most logical place for two people who prefer to avoid large crowds: Beijing. BEIJING! The historical site of the official declaration of China becoming a Communist country, which is the reason for the Golden Week holiday in the first place. So needless to say Beijing was busy…
I don’t know what we were thinking.
Despite the crowds, however, we were determined to see all the “big stuff” of China, the things that no tourist should miss.
And so we did.
We ate a tarantula and giant centipede on Wanfujing Food Street. They did not taste like chicken, but Nic enjoyed both immensely. Boys are gross.
We stalked the Birdmen of Beijing in a local park, where old men gather to let their caged birds socialize and visit with each other, while the birdmen themselves play games and socialize with each other. It was very cute.
And we camped on the Great Wall of China. That’s right, camped. On the Great Wall. Because why see it like tourists, when you can see it like hobos.
Take it from me though, if you’d ever like to do that yourself, make sure that you start out early, as in before noon…otherwise you’ll be wandering through a tiny Chinese village well after dark, miming out the word ‘big’ and pointing to walls and generally freaking out every local you meet. For being a giant wall, I found it remarkably well-hidden. Although once we found it I also realized why everybody seemed to look at me like I had two chopsticks stuck up my nose when I asked: the Great Wall of China was in fact directly above the village on the hillside, and clearly visible to anybody who wasn’t crazy, or who would simply look up. I never would have guessed.
But for all the effort it took – around 4 hours of travel on various buses and a dozen games of charades with the villagers (played only by me, Nic is above that kind of thing apparently) – we eventually found ourselves exactly where we wanted to be: eating dumplings by our tent on top of the GREAT WALL OF CHINA. THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA! It…was…amazing.
And on top of that we finally got to see some of the big stuff.