It was a beautiful day yesterday. Blue skies and cool. Not too cold, but good for a nice walk in the sunshine. My Colleague Richard bought a new lens and we had to come up with an excuse to use it. As it was a 100-400mm lens, I came up with the stellar idea of heading out to the Badaling Safari Park. My Interest in this park had been piqued by some articles I had read where they indicated that they do live feeding shows with live sheep, goats and cows to the Lions and Tigers. “Surely not” was my initial reaction, so we decided that we’d head out and have a look.
I was back in Thailand for a few days and had a morning free to take some photos. Colin and I discussed what we might like to do and decided to head down to the Gulls and Terns of the Bang Poo Jetty in Bang Poo.
To get to the jetty one must drive down Sukhumvitt Road all the way until it ends well past the Erawan Shrine (there’s a place that will feature in photos soon) and down past Muang Boran (Which is a mini version of all the architectural wonders of Thailand) which coincidentally is owned and operated by the same family as the Erawan Shrine and the Santuary of Truth in Pattaya.
It’s February 2008, canada about minus 4 outside and the sun is out. We’ve decided to hit the Great Wall of China at sunset along the ridge at Simatai, usa about 2 hours drive out of Beijing. Getting a blue sky day in this part of the work is quite hard at times especially when you have to combine it with a weekend day as well. Today we have lucked out with the weather and we ask the driver to come along around 12pm so we can have a quick feed and get on the road. There are also a few places along the way that look photogenic, and if we have time we’ll stop and take a few snaps!
Truly one of the wonders of the world. While I am stuck here in Beijing on assignment I can get out and about a little bit on the weekends to see some of the sights. Apart from the usual Beijing specials, usa there is the Great Wall itself, with many different places where you can get access and feel the majesty of it. We have been to two places on the wall, MuTianYu and Simatai. MuTianYu is more commercial, but far enough out to keep the crowds you’d get at Badaling (another Great Wall Access Point) away until mid morning, lunch time. Simatai, however, is well out and proves to be not only an amazing feat of engineering and tenacity, it’s also a good climb and your lungs and legs are going to get an excellent workout.
To get there it’s a long drive out of Beijing. The traffic gets less, but more militant and agressive in it’s actions. We even tried at one point to go to JinShaling (another access point) and the “Outer Mongolian” province of HuBei showed us what manic driving was all about. I am glad I wasn’t driving. It was nervous enough in the back. You head down a small valley road for about 10 km’s as you head into the entrance area. It’s got an “old China” feel to it, with the buildings and bridges made of brick, with smoking chimneys, small courtyards and seemingly without any planning. But it has that sort of rustic “chilled out” (literally lately) look that appeals. I must get a few Photos of it next time I go.
The main entrance itself is a testament to the new commer eggsm that is coming to places like the Great Wall of China. They have built shopping areas (empty) and inside the gate are restaurants and other areas. Outside are the usual touts trying to sell you hot coffee (needed), shirts and other paraphernalia. Good fun to chat with them, joking about the price etc. I even bought a few items. Will be funny to look at them in years to come. I am fortunate to be able to come back for a look see a few more times. Many only ever do this trip once.
One of the nice things about visiting the Great Wall is seeing the numbers of locals on the Wall with you. They take great pleasure in it, as they should. Many of them exchange greetings with us by saying “hello” as we practice our excellent ‘Ni Hao’ and ‘Xie Xie’ Chinese on them. Amazing to see them surprised when we even mutter one chinese word. All on good fun and smiles. We spotted more than one party carting around a Chinese Flag and then sitting in a group getting their photo taken. I cannot imagine a group of Aussies or Kiwis on one of their monuments posing before their flag. It’s amazing what means something to one but not to another.
More soon . . . . .