One of Dorothy’s and Clara’s all time favorite DVD movies is Big Bird in China, which we have probably watched about, hmm, let’s see, … 10,000 times. It was originally a Sesame Street special, produced in 1983 when western visits to China were still a modern novelty. In it Big Bird and his/her silent friend the big shaggy dog Barkly travel to a host of Chinese landmarks, mostly around Beijing, looking for the magic Phoenix bird. Not coincidently, these have been stops on our little tour as well.
It has bugged Clara that Dorothy got to visit the Great Wall four years ago while she was still waiting for us in Hengdong, Hunan Province. So we had been anticipating yesterday’s visit to a section of the wall north of Beijing for a long time. We’ve had great weather that has been sunny and a dry sort of hot. But our internal clocks haven’t quiet fully adjusted. Both girls awoke bright-eyed and ready to go at about 2 am on Thursday, which is close but not there yet.
We arrived near the Great Wall at about 10:30 a.m., filling our little van with high-pitched shouts of, “I can see it!!! I can see it!!!.”
It was a very good day. The adrenaline collected from climbing and hiking around on the wall (keeping an eye out for sudden appearances of the magical Monkey King), making our own little movie, then visiting the familiar stone animals lining the entrance to the nearby tombs of the Ming emperors carried at least the kids through the entire day, with a close to normal sleep Thursday night.
This is a secondary purpose of this leg of our trip. Since we couldn’t meet Henry in Lanzhou before the 15th, scrambling together our arrangements to arrive in China a week in advance was intended to give us all time to adjust to the difficult time change. This is turning out to have been a very good move, since we’ll have a lot of much bigger adjustments to make next week. While Lanzhou is far to the west of Beijing, all of China retains the same time zone.
It's Friday morning here at present. Tomorrow we head to Gansu Province.