Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Beijing - All Over II

The Olympic volunteer kids are quite incredible. I spent a good amount of time with them after my mammoth day out trying to get a car and driver for my second day. They wrangled and wrestled, haggled and hustled. Eventually, after trying various options we decided to just book a taxi in the morning. So that's exactly what I did...

My driver headed out into the empty freeways of north Beijing. About two hours out is the small town of Simatai, home to a gloriously unrestored section of the Great Wall. I headed out by a rickety cable car which traversed deep gorges and close by shrubbery. The cars held only two and most of them were empty. The creakiness was evident, as was the rusty two bolts holding the car hook to the cable. After the cable car is a small funicular train and then the hike. Goodness me, the hike. I arrived at the top of the great wall panting, sweating and suffering from the heat and humidity.

It was a hazy day but the wall snaked out into the distance. The Great Wall of China is something that most learn of as small children in school. It's not something I ever really thought I'd one day stand on. But there I was. It goes into the box with the Pyramids...

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Never one to pass up an opportunity to find places to add some more info to my book project, I found an air museum on the outskirts of Beijing. What a spectacular it one was too.

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A converted airbase with a spectacular collection MiG's and Shenyang made fighter aircraft. The first portion is inside of a hangar 'tunnel' dug out of a hillside. When you arrive on the other side of the tunnel there is a long row of MiG's, in the setting it is truly an atmospheric moment.

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I walked in the heat and stifling humidity - the air museum is located in a jungle like area - past rows of aircraft. Even Chairman Mao's transport aircraft...

Yet again I fell asleep in the car on the way back to Beijing.

More to come on my last few days in China...

4 comments:

David said...

So was the museum a former airbase, or did they happen to just have a hanger in a mountain somewhere?

ideaslinger said...

David, it's an annex to a base... if you look it up on Google Earth there is an access road that leads about 2 miles south west to what looks like an active airfield of some sort.

Joseph said...

Great wall shot Martin. I don't make it out there myself :( I look forward to seeing more of your photos from there.

Vincent Laforet said...

Awesome find on the Migs!!! Will make a nice addition to your project - v