We took a cable car to get to the Wall.
The next thing I noticed was that the wall is completely covered with....graffiti.
So after the slight disappointment of the wall, the only thing to do was repair to a nearby restaurant for lunch, then on to visit some Ming dynasty tombs. The highlight of the trip came on the following day to the area known as the Summer Palace. Remember how the Forbidden City is all stonework with no trees? Well, that bold designer look worked out really well in the heat of a Beijing summer -- the Royal Family and their retainers must have sizzled like ants on a grill. So they would repair to the suburbs, where they had their own private lake surrounded by hills. Successive kings built pagodas and dwellings here and there on the property. It was the apogee of Chinese craftsmanship, a veritable paradise on earth. I've mentioned this trip briefly in an earlier blog post.
This was the place that the Western armies looted and burned to the ground during the Second Opium War. You can read about this episode in history, with a lyrical description of the Summer Palace in Flashman and the Dragon, one of the ribald historical Flashman series, which Ross and I highly recommend.
What we can say about the Summer Palace today is that it's now open to the public, not the preserve of royalty.