At 8am the group met and boarded a coach to Mutianyu which is one area to observe the Great Wall of China. Although their are several locations to do this, Ricky our guide feels this is one of the better areas and because it is farther away from Bejing than some areas, it is less congested. Everyone is dressed warmer with several layers of clothing as it is again below 0°.
On the way to visit the great wall, Ricky provided us with some history and information about China. He also indicated he was going to try to teach us Chinese by teaching us two words a day. I forgot both words before we went an additional block.
Ricky pointed out part of the inner wall in Bejing. He indicate most of it was destroyed in 1960 to build subways. He further indicated that because of the traffic congestion the gov restricts traffic on weekdays. If your vehicle plate number ends with certain numbers you can't drive a specific day. For example, if your plate ends with number 3 or 9 you can't drive on Thursday, if it ends with 2 or 8 you can't drive on Wednesday, etc. No restrictions are required on the weekends. Bejing has over 6 million vehicles registered.
It is hard to get registration for cars in Bejing - they only allow 20,000 per month and only 5% of people who apply are able to get registration.
In Shanghai they issue 8,000 registrations a month, but they do it by auction, averaging $90,000 yuon per license. Very few people can afford a car.
The Mutianyu Great Wall was built by General Xuda who served in the early Ming dynasty. Nine different parts of the wall are open to tourists. This part, at Mutianyu is 9 miles long and has 20 towers on this section. The beginning of the wall was built 2,500 yrs ago and was 3,000km long. Many walls were built near boarders and just 600 yrs ago the pieces of the walls were linked together with the purpose of keeping the Mongolians away. 6800 km of the walls have survived.
After arriving at the wall, Ricky gave us some options. We could walk the 1008 stairs up the wall or we could take the chair lift or cable car up to one of the walls towers. For returning down, we could walk, take chair lift or cable car or toboggan down. I chose to take the cable car up to tower 14 and walk to tower 6 and take the chair lift down. Many of the group took the cable car to 14 and walked up to tower 20 at which they received a metal indicating they walked the great wall. Many people took the toboggan down.
At the community at the bottom of the wall their is a small rock garden. I suspect it would be very beautiful during the summer months.
The majority of Chinese people are Han ethnicity. There are 55 Chinese minority groups and China has a strong policy to preserve the minority groups. Thus the minority groups are not affected by the one child policy which was implemented in 1978. Han people are affected by one child policy: Ricky is Han. Initially the policy was flexible but for the past 30 years or so it had become strict. Initally if a second child was born, officials used to visit the family everyday for a week to encourage giving up the child, if that didn't work then some of the families valuables were taken, such as a T.V or heirloom. Later penalties for having a second child was 7 times annual wage .
After the earthquake in 2008 permission could be received to have a second child if a child died or was severly handicapped. If both parents were the only children of their family an application could be made to have a second child but financial savings had to be in place first. In January 2016, a new policy to eliminate the only child rule was enacted. As yet it is unclear how this will happen and if it will only be available to the rich. At the present time 35 million men in China are unable to find wives due to the one-child policy and the unspoken practice of sex selection.
Other random info....women must retire at age 55, men at 60. However there are discussions that the government is reconsidering ages 65 or 67 for both sexes.
After the great Wall we took a 2 hour flight to Xi'an and a coach took us to the Hna Hotel. This hotel barely met my standards. But the beds were clean. As we were driving into Xi'an we could see more fireworks in the distance.