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The Third China Majiang Championship and Forum

October 29-31, 2005, Beijing, China

I took over 500 photos, and I wish I could share them all with you. It was hard, but I was able to weed some of them out. But it's still a lot of photos. So I'm breaking this down into a day-by-day account. Here commences Day One. Or is it Day Zero. Whatever. My camera hadn't been adjusted to the local time zone (in case the timestamp survived, ignore it), but it was Friday, October 28.

Tournament players stayed at the Beijing Yuxinyuan Hotel. The hotel grounds has several buildings. Many of us stayed in building #2. Here's the interior.
The hotel's grounds have several interesting features. One is this. My best guess is that the inlaid channel in the gazebo floor represents a snake. If this was in America, the inlaid channel would be full of dead leaves, grunge, and water. But it's clean and dry!
There's a pretty pond, with an arched bridge and a zigzag walkway, overseen by a hill where there's a building where one can look down on the whole scene.
I figured I'd be hanging around the hotel, maybe practicing mah-jongg (guess what - shoulda done that!), maybe hiking the local area (wish I'd found the time to do that). But over breakfast I heard that the other Americans were taking an excursion to Badaling to see the Great Wall, so I asked if I could join. After about 2 hours or so of driving in the scary Chinese traffic (more on this later), we finally got a glimpse of the Great Wall.
We survived the ride with only one minor fender-bender (our driver had to pay the other driver after a spirited negotiation in the middle of the roundabout). This is Larry and David Unger, showing off their "I Climbed The Great Wall" shirts (which they negotiated down to a show-off-able price).
Don't let anybody kid you. It really is a feat to climb the Wall here.
Wanna get your picture taken on a horse? Or maybe a camel? Bickering over the price is part of the fun.
The view from on high.
Me, catching my breath (thanks to Larry for taking the shot).
Onward and upward to even greater heights? ... I don't think so, but thanks anyway.
It boggles the mind to picture the process of building this thing! Much less maintaining a force to man it, day in and day out...
One last look higher up, then head back down.
There are other structures associated with the wall too.
There are watchtowers along the wall, with walkways through them. The ones we visited had upper floors but they were closed to the public (else people'd be up there selling stuff, I guess).
David and Larry discuss the logistics of building such a humongous structure. It's said that the Great Wall is the only manmade structure visible from space, but I doubt that the Wall itself can even be seen from so high up (without really good magnification). My guess is that cities (manmade, are they not?) are much more visible than the Wall.
Back at the bottom, we found this classic scene. "Kid posing on a cannon." Don't tell me you never posed on a cannon when you were a kid - or that you never took a picture of somebody posing with a cannon. Cannons are part of tourist scenes everywhere in the world. But I digress. Cute picture! (^_^)
Looking up at the wall from the bottom. David suggested this picture, and he was right!
On to the next tourist site. We were amazed by the mountains. Well, not so much by the mountains as by the terracing. Look closely. See those horizontal lines across all the mountains? Those are manmade terraces. The entire mountain range where the road went through was terraced like this. Presumably it was done for landslide control. It boggles the mind to imagine the effort it took to do this on such a widespread scale.
Our next stop: the "Gods Road" leading into the area of the Thirteen Tombs (shi san ling). This structure contains a stele, and behind it is a road lined with statues of animals (mystical and real) and historical figures.
David and Larry went ahead of me (me fancy myself cameraman).
The stele is carved with a lengthy story or history or something (me no read Chinese).
A really big turtle carries the stele on its back.
A lion.
I don't know who this guy is, but he looks really fierce (I'm talking about the statue, not me).
A little farther down the road, we came to one of the Thirteen Tombs. This is Ding Ling.
Looking back down on where the previous photo was taken. After visiting this place, our driver wanted us to see another tomb... but we were tired. It took us a couple hours to get back to our hotel. I was riding in the front seat -- Larry and David were in the back.
Riding in Chinese traffic is not for the weak-hearted. I'd experienced it before, but it took all the guts I could master. After the sun had long gone down, the car was rapidly approaching a crosswalk with pedestrians in it. The car was not slowing down. I had a sudden vision of the pedestrians being struck by the bumper and careening headlong over the hood, through the windshield, and into my lap. I pointed at the pedestrians and shouted (in English), "PEOPLE! PEOPLE! PEOPLE! PEOPLE!" The driver slowed down, and I heard stirrings in the back seat. A sleepy voice asked, "So, Tom, are you having a good time up there in the front seat?"
Back safely! That evening the first gathering of the tournament was held. While officials announced the rules for the tournament, Andy (with microphone) translated for the foreign visitors.
That evening, explosions were heard. I went out on my balcony and tried to capture photos of the fireworks. My photos pretty much suck, but this one sucks a little less than the others.

Friday, October 28, 2005 - First Day in China
Saturday, October 29, 2005 - Tournament Day One
Sunday, October 30, 2005 - Tournament Day Two
Monday, October 31, 2005 - Last Tournament Day
Wednesday, November 2, 2005 - Sightseeing in Beijing
Thursday, November 3, 2005 - Last Beijing Outing

Copyright 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.