We have had an extraordinary day already today — and it’s only 10:00 AM Beijing time! Here’s a summary of what happened.
We got to our guest lodge in Xizhazi (about 65 km from the center of Beijing) last night (a two-hour drive from the airport) at about 8:00 PM. When we arrived we had a wonderful multi-dish meal freshly prepared here for us. We then retired early (at around 9:30 pm) so that we could get up early in the morning.
And by early in the morning, I mean VERY early in the morning. Our distinguished host, Mr. William Lindesay (OBE), woke us all up at 2:45 AM (!) so that we could be on the Great Wall just as the sun was coming up over the horizon. It took us a little less than two hours to reach the wall by hiking (first, briefly, on a paved road, but then in the woods on a true hiking trail). Thanks to very clear skies, we began to have wonderful views of the Wall on the ridge-line during our hike. And when we finally did reach the wall itself, the views were, in a word, breathtaking. (We will try to post some photos once this text entry is posted.)
After reaching the wall and enjoying the sublime sunrise (which gave us gorgeous views looking in all directions), we then hiked along the Wall for quite a ways, stopping at different places to listen to Mr. Lindesay talk to us about the Wall’s history and significance. By the way, Mr. Lindesay is one of the foremost authorities on the history of the wall, has lived in China for many years, and has published numerous books and articles on this topic. We are blessed indeed to have him guide us here.
After hiking back to our lodge (which used to be a village school), we had a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, bread, and juice.
It’s now rest time for us. We will visit the Wall again tomorrow, to learn more about this magnificent structure. How fortunate we are to be in this beautiful place with such a nice group of Groton students, all of whom seem to be doing very well.