August 22, 2006
One country, Two systems

Such is the statement coming from Hong Kong about their relationship with China. Anyway, talk about wall to wall buildings. Nothing but shopping and businesses everywhere. Kind of cool, as most everyone speaks fluent English. It was better than China, where everyone just assumed I was Michael Chang and wanted to drag me out on the tennis court.

Well, Hong Kong was pretty expensive, so I was glad I did all of my hard bartering on the streets of Beijing. If you ever make it to Hong Kong, make sure you get to the top of Victoria Peak for the tourist trap view of Hong Kong. It was pretty easy getting around town via the subway. I even took a bus out to Stanley, where the rich like to play on the beach. Gosh, wish I had my bathing suit.

Posted by mbang at 08:38 AM
August 17, 2006
The Great Wall of China

So, we've been some pretty cool and moderately challenging hikes. To name a few:
1) Half Dome - A strenuous 12-14 hour hike to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park (multiple times)
2) The Inca Trail - 4 days trekking through the mountains (up to 14,000 feet) ending up in Machu Picchu in Peru (Kinda like 4 Half Domes in a row).
3) The Camino de Santiago - A religious pilgrimmage that's been done for 500 years, the last part backpacking across Spain to Santiago to see the bones of St. James in the cathedral (14 days trekking from Leon to Santiago).

So this year, we did The Great Wall of China.

We definitely HAD to make it to the top of the Badaling section as we couldn't let some 80 year old hikers, walking in home-made sandals beat us to the top. Not a bad hike at all. Very scenic and a ton of people. The wall is nowhere near as groomed as similar tourist attractions in the US. I guess the fear of multiple lawsuits for tripping on a crack just doesn't exist in China, yet.

Anyway, it was really hot, so the guard towers offered some level of relief. Oh, and once I looked up, way up, and saw a space shuttle! Infact, the pilot waved at me and I waved back. Ah, so it's true! The Great Wall MUST be the only man-made object that can be seen from space!!!

Posted by mbang at 06:29 PM