Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Great Wall at Er Dao Guan

building at Er Dao Guan in Beijing

During Mike and Amanda's visit we signed up for a tour to the Great Wall through China Culture Center. This tour includes a visit to a small village and the opportunity to meet a villager and his family.
Stone building at Er Dau Guan village in Beijing

The village at Er Dao Guan is about 300 years old and is fairly typical of rural villages in the Beijing area.
Old doorway at Er Dao Guan village in Beijing

The Chinese are big proponents of the old adage "Good fences make good neighbors." Most homes are arranged in a square or rectangular manner with one entrance to the outside and a center courtyard.

This doorway leads to a center courtyard.
Corn mill at Er Dao Guan village in Beijing

This is a corn mill. We passed by a working mill on the bus on our way but I couldn't get the camera organized in time. I'm not sure if this one has been permanently retired or just out of service at this time. Basically the roller frame is pulled by a mule walking in a circle around the device. The corn is spread on the round horizontal stone and crushed by the roller stone.

Raising ducks in the small river was popular. We saw several areas with ducks on the water.

We visited this guy and his wife in their home. I'm sorry but I can't remember his name. This is the bedroom. The bed is known as a kang or heated stone bed. There is a small oven outside often used for cooking. The flue circulates under the bed and then out a stack on the outside of the room. Pretty basic accommodation but notice the  laptop and cable modem for high speed internet access.

This is the man's wife. She was crippled by a childhood illness. Notice the handicapped ramp access to the home. I didn't ask but judging by the handrail I imagine this was built by the village government as a social benefit.

For all those inquiring minds, their home had piped running water and a sit down flush toilet.

This old man is hauling firewood - really sticks - from the hillside chestnut plantation to the village for use as firewood.

The firewood is used for cooking a heating of the kangs and general home heating.

We visited in late November so people were stocking up. You see firewood stacked all over the village.
Chestnut statue at Er Dao Guan in Beijing

OK. Quick - what was the first thing that popped into your mind when you saw this statue or monument?

This is actually a chestnut statue. This area has extensive chestnut orchards all over the hills.

Click to enlarge.

These next few pictures are from a largely abandoned village.

The pile of stuff on the right are chestnut husks. I think these are burned for fuel, also.

This building is fitted with paper windows. As you can see the are not in good repair. It is currently used for storage - not human habitation.

This guy is carrying a couple of buckets of very smelly night soil down to the garden to use as fertilizer.

With 1.3 billion people. China uses a lot of the world's resources. On the other hand, they recycle everything possible - not out of some altruistic, save-the-earth ethos but for economic necessity.
The Great Wall near Er Dao Guan village in Beijing

The section of the Great Wall we visited is un-restored. Part of it has been stabilized to prevent further deterioration but a lot of it has not received any attention.

Here are Mike and Amanda standing at one of the old guard towers. They hiked on up to several other towers but I stopped here.

Here is a shot back down the wall. Margot and a couple others choose to sit and chat with our guides instead of climbing up the wall.

This guy hauled some souvenirs up to the wall in hope of selling a bit to the very few visitors to the wall that day. There were 7 in our group and we saw 3 others on our way down. So maybe he had 15 or 20 potential sales that day. Margot bought some postcards so he didn't have a complete bust.

I looked this up in my translator. It makes more sense in Chinese. It says that carrying embers into the mountain is prohibited. It is very dry and fire is a big concern in the area.

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