The day after the women’s race we packed up our bags and prepared to head off for Bangkok. It was sad to say goodbye to people we knew we wouldn’t see for a while. Our flight was scheduled for late in the afternoon and we had time for some more sight seeing. We had decided to save one of China’s star attractions until last. We had arranged for the guide we met at our previous hotel, Storm, the same one who helped arrange our Warriors excursion, to pick us up at the race hotel and take us to the Great Wall. This was an absolutely amazing day and we can not thank Storm enough!
The drive to the wall took us through lovely and quaint country side that was what I had expected to see when we went to Xi’ an. Storm took us to an area of the wall that was completely isolated from the touristy area and this was just what I wanted. It was stunning and we had it almost to ourselves (we passed one other family). Totally enthralled, we hiked the wall for about an hour before having move to the next area. I don’t even know how to explain what it was like. It is one of those things that words can not do justice to.
The next area that we went to was reached through a farmers field. Obviously Storm had some kind of an in with the farmer. From the van we hiked on a path through fields and woods to an un-restored area of the wall that was super cool. We wandered in and out of different sections of the Great Wall of China! It was also really neat to see the peasants going about their day.
After we were done there we went for lunch at the farmers place. It was really special to be able to get a glimpse into this kind of life but we were all a little tentative to eat much as the standard of hygiene was definitely not what we are used to. After we finished lunch, we headed to the airport. In addition to seeing one of the coolest things in the world, the other great thing about the day was being able to speak with Storm and discover his perspective on the China of old and the China today. Fearon had been doing an assignment on Chinese Philosophy and we had the perfect opportunity to pick the brains of someone with first hand insight into how the various philosophies influence life in China today. Eric had been doing some reading on the government system in China and in his Canadian textbook, China’s system is certainly not portrayed as positive. Getting Storm’s perspective on the system left us with a completely different take on things. Rather that hearing about the neglect of human rights we heard about how the government is taking care of people and how much better of people are today than they have been in the past. Storm was convinced that one of the reasons for this is that, with a one party system, resources and time need not be wasted on fighting between parties and on lengthy decision making processes. He is very optimistic that if one wants to succeed in China today, with hard work, one can.
During our time in China, the kids text book school work was put on the back burner. Although they don’t appreciate it now or even realize it, I am confident they learned far more in the ten days we spent there than they could have in 6 weeks of studying about China in a textbook.
We left China exhausted and ready to move on but with incredible memories of sights, sounds, smells and pictures that will no doubt last a lifetime.