This morrning I woke up with no alarm. I did not realize it was 5am. Jet lag, which made me feel like it was 5pm, allowed me to feel fresh for todays events. This turned out to be beneficial because today would be the day I get to witness the Great Wall of China in all its glory. The ride to the wall was about an hour from the hotel, which gave me plenty of time to wonder if what I was about to witness would be really as “great” as its title illudes. As we pull up to the parking lot and exited the van my eyes opened wide and my head tilted backward in disbelief.
Just at first glance the wall was already living up to my expectations. We took about a million pictures then we were given the option to climb the easy or the hard side of the wall. Mr.Shine had given us two hours and I was determined to spend the entire time conquering the “hard” side of the wall.
Half way up the uneven, hand made staircase to heaven I looked back and spotted the van, that then resembled an ant. With a deep breath and several mintues of rest I thought to myself, ” you did not come all this way to not make it to the top.” Those words of self encouragement led me to complete the my jouney. It started out with nine of us and only three made it to the top. I, among the two others, were winded, sweaty, and the pressure of the altitude made our ears pop. From the top of the wall the view was outstanding.
I was always told the legends who died building The Great Wall of China were buried among the bricks. As I climed the wall a tremendous respect grew for those who dedicated their lives to creating this great barrier to protect their country.
I think “Great” is an understatement. The word great does not begin to do the Wall it’s due dilligents.
We met back at the van, loaded it and left the Great Wall. As we drove off I stared at the creation to get one more look at the masterpiece. My heart was filled with so much pride for having witnessed its greatness I can only imagine how the people of China feel knowing the creation their culture birthed. My lap was also filled with pictures and T-shirts I bought to remember what I had the opportunity to do here in China. Its moments like these I never want to forget.
In the van Mr. Shine informed us that we will be going to lunch. After the HotPot experience many of us were not looking forward to what lunch had in store. We exchanged looks of apprehension and proceeded to take it all in. We arrived at a big building with a small shop in front of it and a small crowd gathered around. We walked through a heavily plastic stripped doorway that led to a warehouse like workshop. Initially I was confused because I saw no where for us to be seated to eat.
What I didn’t know was Mr. Shine was using this as another learning experience, not just a place to eat. The first level of the restaurant was a shop where Cloisonné, better known in America as Enamel Blue. We then learn that the Cloisonné is an ancient technique for decorating metalwork objects.
We able to walk step by step through the tedious process of its beautiful creation.The decoration is formed by first adding compartments to the metal object by adhering silver or gold wires or thin strips placed on their edges. These remain visible in the finished piece, separating the different compartments of the enamel or inlays, which are often of several colors. Cloisonné enamel objects are worked on with enamel powder made into a paste, which then needs to be dipped in fire in a kiln.
I stood there in astonishment as Mr. Shine informed us all about the works of art. He told us the technique was in ancient times mostly used for jewellery and small fittings for clothes, weapons or similar small objects decorated with geometric designs, with thick cloison walls. Originally created by Byzantine Empire techniques using thinner wires were developed to allow more pictorial images to be produced, mostly used for religious images. By the 14th century this enamel technique had spread to China, where was soon used for much larger vessels such as bowls and vases; the technique remains common in China to the present day, and cloisonné enamel objects using Chinese-derived styles were produced in the West from the 18th century.
After the tour of the workshop was given I all looked at pieces I could buy to send to my family. All of the prices range from 400RMD and up. I decided to just take pictures to show them. Above the shop there sat a restaurant. We were seated at a traditional Chinese dinning table with a round shaped spinning table in the middle and very small plates that line the outer ring of the table. We sat at each set of silverware and waited for our food. Again Mr. Shine had ordered on our behalf, but this time everything looked delicious. I had no idea the names of most dishes but I knew the basic chicken, rice, and pork paired with some vegetables. The familiar smells made me feel a little bit more confident that I would be full at the end of this meal and I was.
I looked around the table and everyone was using chopsticks and eating something. It was comforting to see everyone enjoying themselves. At that moment I felt grateful for not only the new experience in a new country but having the opportunity to meet new people to share them with.