Onward to Beijing, China

Trip Start Mar 13, 2007
Trip End Aug 10, 2007

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Flag of China  , Beijing,
Saturday, July 7, 2007

The empty grasslands near Mongolia gradually gave way to hills and grubby mud brick villages and then to the smokestacks, coal heaps, and massive new power plants of northern China's industrial Inner Mongolia and Hebei provinces. We crossed a last mountain range and passed the Great Wall at Badaling into the Beijing area at dusk.

The Great Wall is, of course, one of China's top sights and out itinerary included a stop at the Great Wall at Mutianyu.  I had been to Mutianyu almost exactly a year earlier at the end of my four-month long Silk Road trip.  It's a wonderful spot to walk up to and then on the wall for several miles as it undulates over the mountains, but I was honestly not in the mood to venture from my air conditioned hotel room on the hot, humid day.  But more than the weather it was the news I had gotten about the death of a close friend when I finally got onto the Internet two days earlier in Erlianhot that put me in the mood to sit alone and stare at the walls in my room.  

My quiet day ended with a raucous farewell dinner for the group I had been together with for almost three months, a massive Chinese banquet of all the familiar and unfamiliar dishes.  The following day was a quiet one on the truck as we all nursed out hangovers, visited the Ming Tomb complex about 30 miles outside of Beijing, and continued on into the capital of the Middle Kingdom.

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