There’s a reason it’s called The ‘GREAT’ Wall

November 02, 2007 | Nestor Aparicio

It’s been hard to blog with all of the traveling the last 36 hours, but we’ve safely landed in Hong Kong, only 1,200 miles from The Great Wall of China.

When Cal Ripken’s trip to China was announced, it was apparent to me that this was my one great chance to get to Asia and see parts of China and the Pacific Rim that had only been fantasyland before now.

What I didn’t bargain for was a trip to The Great Wall with Ripken and 20 other folks, who all made the experience truly unforgettable. We left Beijing at 11 a.m. and headed northeast for a 90-minute drive up the hill past a series of strange tourist areas and near barren farmland.

Because The Great Wall is basically built on a hill – and you can google it and learn all of the crazy facts about the Mongols overtaking the wall and all of the other cool historical data – it’s VERY cold up in the hills this time of year. Heck, it was only 42 degrees in Beijing when we left on Thursday morning, so you can imagine what the mountains to the north felt like.

I honestly had no preconceptions about The Great Wall, other than it would probably be something I should do if I were ever given the opportunity. So, yesterday was my chance! And up the hill we went!

When we arrived we realized we had two options to get up the hill: walk or take the cable cars (YES, there are cable cars to the top!). We also had THREE options to come down the hill: walk, take the cable car or take a toboggan down the hill.

Being the adventurer (and probably because everyone else signed up), we opted for the toboggan! A GREAT decision!

I’ll allow wnsTV to tell much of the story when I get back and get these videos up on the website, but The Great Wall of China is one of the Top 5 things I’ve ever experienced in my life.

The vastness, the amazing stillness and quiet and the sheer grandeur of The Great Wall makes it something that can’t truly be put into words or captured on a flat video. You just can’t imagine how spectacular it is until you see and my blog will not do it justice.

Let’s just say that The Great Wall was TRULY – well — GREAT!

And if you ever do make it to The Great Wall, please don’t even THINK about coming down any other way than the toboggan! The toboggan ride was the best carnival/amusement park ride I’ve ever been on. It was a giant silver sliver that kinda reminded me of a waterslide ride, but one that had breaks!

Upon leaving The Great Wall, we almost missed our flight to Hong Kong, making it by about 15 minutes and we didn’t arrive here in Asia’s World City until well after midnight.

So, while Ripken will continue onto Shanghai, we will continue the WNST Asia tour in Hong Kong and Tokyo over the next four days.

There is some good news here: our TV in our Western tourist room has ESPN! So, this morning over coffee, I caught a little of the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game! So there IS hope that my Tokyo hotel room might actually afford me the Ravens-Steelers game on Tuesday morning before we fly home.

It’s late afternoon here in Hong Kong – TGIF, if you will – and it’s amazing to see how much SMOG has overrun Asia.

While Beijing had its high points and it’s incredible boom of construction and East meets West twists, Hong Kong has become one of the World’s great cities over the past 25 years. This city might be the world’s melting pot for people and culture, but they haven’t figured out a way to clean up their air so that the natural beauty of the city and the Hong Kong harbor can be seen. Beijing was filthy with smog the first two days and then cleared up nicely for sightseeing and The Great Wall the final two days.

Here in Hong Kong, it looks like one of those domed football games where they shoot off the pre-game fireworks and the smoke doesn’t clear until the second quarter. We can barely see the other side of the harbor through the cloud of stench in the air!

Today, we toured Kowloon and ordered some custom clothes (a must here, mainly because tailors are on every corner and you can get a $2,000 suit for $200 and $200 tailored shirts for $30. We also walked the Kowloon promenade and discovered that they actually celebrate Halloween in Hong Kong (we thought it was an American thing, but it’s not).
 
Tomorrow, we’ll scale Victoria Peak, tour Hong Kong island and some fishing villages and report back.

Hope all is well back at home and we’re really looking forward to some purple football on Tuesday morning from Tokyo. While Asia is cool there are a few things I miss: clean drinking water, fresh air and blonde women (besides my wife)! LOL…

In the meantime, we’ll shoot some more videos and send along some more postcards from the road.

All this and I STILL hope to be at Tuesday Night Live with a “Ravens kicked the Steelers ass victory party” when I get home!

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