The Ming Tombs & Mutianyu – Beijing, China

Luckily, we were able to join a tour with the China Culture Center to the Ming Tombs and Mutianyu at the last minute. This was our final full day in Beijing. Mike anticipated the tour to the Ming Tombs as much as the Great Wall hike. I was more excited to see the Great Wall at Mutianyu, because I knew it would look much different from our hike. The Spirit way was lined with statues of guardian animal tomb protectors and officials leading us to the Changling Tomb, which is the tomb of the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Di and Empress Xu. It was erected in 1409 and was the first tomb of the Ming Dynasty. 

The Tomb's Protector

Spirit Way – Tomb Protectors

Ming Tombs

Entrance to the Spirit Way

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The Tomb's Official

Emperor’s Official

The Changling Tomb

Changling Tomb

After a group lunch at Xiao Long Pu, the bus took us another 30 minutes to Mutianyu. We walked up the steep stone pathway to the gondola lift and decided to wait to shop for gifts from the street vendors until after we toured the wall. By now, you should know that Mike and I did not just go up to the viewing platform and take the short route back down. We walked quickly through the guard towers (there were a lot more here than on our hike) for about 30 minutes. It was wonderful to be able to climb on top of the guard tower and get the full view. Even though this part of the wall is restored, it was still quite strenuous since there are so many steps.

09-20-2012 - Beijing_25Praying on the Great Wall

Praying Mantis on the Wall

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The Great Wall (original & restored)

Seeing different parts of the Great Wall really put the historical aspect of this trip into perspective. We were so lucky to experience it both ways. We took the toboggan down to the base of the gondola lift. After bargaining for a t-shirt and probably still paying too much, we tried to improve our bargaining skills with some other vendors. I think we made a good team!

For our final dinner in Beijing we decided to visit Makye Ame, a Tibetan restaurant where one of our guides from the Great Wall performs. Brenda, Mike, Chris, Soul and I did not make reservations but managed to get the very last table for the evening. Our friend got us set up with a round of Tibetan Green Barley beer and suggested some great appetizers. The yak dumplings and rack of lamb were my favorite  dishes  during our time in China. Our friend and the other Tibetan performers did traditional dances and engaged everyone to join in as well. This was a truly memorable experience and a wonderful restaurant. I highly recommend it if you are feeling adventurous to try yak meat; you will not be disappointed.

We did not want our trip to come to an end, so after dinner we went to a very small bar near the hotel. It was meant to fit six people, but just five of us was perfect. We chatted with the teenage looking bartender and told him about all the places we visited during our stay.

The next day we said goodbye to our new friend Soul at the subway station. We were quite sad to be leaving since we would not know when we would see him next. Chris left for work early, so we said goodbye the evening before. Brenda came with us to the airport, and we had our last real Chinese lunch. It was a fantastic trip and one that I wish we could have extended. I am so grateful for the opportunity we were given to visit Brenda and Chris. I know that experience has changed both of us.

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