When walking through the Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden city, it was easy to convince myself that I was on some sort movie set.  It was hard to convince myself that it's actually real.

I did not have that problem on the Great Wall.

We started by trudging up an alley created by vendors selling "I Climbed the Great Wall" tshirts and Mao hats.
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Patt and Baseemah in front of vendors.
We continued to trudge up to the the cable cars that ferried us up the mountain to the wall itself.  We climbed some more steps, then found ourselves on the Great Wall itself.
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It is the most phenomenal structure I have ever seen.  It literally goes on and on and on.  I could count the beacon towers over mountains, then more mountains, then more until they became specks in the distance.

The Wall is difficult to walk on.  The steps are very steep and worn.  The path itself is very well made, but, well, old.  It is very up and down, sometimes at 35 degrees or more.  But the hard walk is worth every minute of the breathtaking scenery.

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Going back down the mountain was a breeze.  We took the metal luge down to the bottom and it was totally fun.  I have no pictures because I was trying to hold on.   It is worth the 24 hours of travel time, the jet lag, the cost of the tickets just to see the Great Wall.  Plus, you feel appreciated on the way up!
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As I am sure you noticed, I was unable to blog while in China.  Internet and power were both factors.  However, I will be chronicling my journey over the next few days so stay tuned!
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The Forbidden City covers 7, 800,000 square feet of land and has 9, 999.5 rooms (pavillons count as half rooms).  It was built for one person, the Emperor.  It also housed his servants (all eunuchs), wives and concubines, all told around 3,000 people whose only purpose was to serve the Emperor.  No wonder he had a God complex.

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Since the Forbidden City was kept in its original state until 1912, when the Emperor fell, it looks just like it did when it was first built in the 1400s.  The paint is kept up, as well as the wood.  Most of the structures are wood.  The roof tiles are glazed with different colours according to what the building housed.  Only the Emperor's buildings could have these yellow tiles.  Libraries were black tiled, concubines' places were green tiled. 

There is an insane amount of symbolism to keep up with in China.  When you go through doors, women should enter with the right leg and men should enter with the left.  The door mantels were raised according to how high ranking you were.  Auspicious animals guard the corners of buildings, and the number depends on how high your social class is.  The Emperor gets 12.

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The most beautiful part of the Forbidden City, to me, is the courtyard.  If you ever saw the movie The Last Emperor, this courtyard is the one used for his coronation at the very beginning.  (If you haven't seen The Last Emperor, you should.  It's amazing.)
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The Forbidden City is beautiful and elegant.  However, I can't help but think it was also lonely.  When everyone around you is there to serve you, do you connect with anyone, really?  it must have been a difficult life.