"The marvelous Marji says our little caper went off without a hitch; she was able to post my first blog from Chairman Mao's homeland quite easily. Speaking of the Chairman, we tried to view Mao's refrigerated body today in Tian'an Men Square, but we missed the appropriate viewing time. Will try again.
Tian'an Men Square itself is enormous- I believe the largest public square in the world. There are gigantic video screens showing breathtaking scenes of the country and its treasures - the varied landscapes, people, arts and culture, produce and products--all gloriously photographed and choreographed to music while thousands of people and soldiers milled about, and NOT A SPECK OF TRASH ANYWHERE. I mean no newspapers, plastic bottles, half eaten containers of KFC (yes the "colonel" -like the chairman is everywhere). I saw one woman walk several hundred feet to throw away a piece of paper the size of a gumwrapper. There are workers whose job it is to sweep up constantly all day long. Despite the regimentation, the people don't seem at all tightly wrapped; folks are open, smiling, willing to be photographed, happy whenever I make a feeble attempt at my three words of Mandarin: "Thank you": shee-eh' shee-eh', "Hello": knee-howww', and "This one":ne'-gah.
This helped me enormously when we arrived at THE GREAT WALL, so long it can be seen from outerspace and which I hope to verify one day. (By the way, the second longest contiguous wall on the planet is apparently located in a cemetery in MA.-Lynn??? Check Ripley's Believe It Or Not.) I went up by chair lift, and came down by toboggan--two modes of transportation unavailable to the Mongol Hordes which the wall was designed to keep out. It did. Built along the ridge of the mountains, the wall forced the Mongolians--expert horsemen and marksmen-- to dismount!
Once we were on the wall, My husband Andrew and I scampered up and down along the wavy brick-staired, double sided structure, avoiding kids on cell phones, guards selling beer, and lovers eating cake. Yes. I was offered a piece but for once resisted, and looking out across the mountains in the clear, warm air, clung fast to the idea that I WAS ACTUALLY ON THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA!!!"