Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Shanhaiguan, part II - Old Dragon's Head

We bundled up after eating and went out to hail another cab. We planned to head out to Laolongtou (Old Dragon's Head). The eastern starting point of the Great Wall which extends into the sea. I thought it would be cool, the Great Wall is cool, with a nice view of the ocean and such, but Angela had been building up my expectations. She mentioned that this place was listed as a national UNESCO AAAA World Heritage attraction. It was a little hard to believe based on some of our experiences with Chinese tourist attractions. I was wrong though and it was much more than we had expected.

Qinhuangdao - Old Dragon's Head - MazeOld Dragon's Head is an old fortress, first built in 1381, but destroyed in 1900. We each payed 50 RMB to enter. The grounds were immaculately clean and there were only a handful of other tourists, all of them Chinese, and all of the old buildings had been beautifully restored, many of them with reconstructions of Qing Dynasty life. there were many statues and displays of equipment and weapons, which were all quite fascinating. We wandered around for about 40 minutes on the superbly manicured site before coming to a large maze, a brilliant installation of stone-walls which had to be navigated in order to reach four corner checkpoints, as well as a center dais. Both of us were quite impressed and Angela charged into the maze saying "this is easy," but soon found herself at a dead end. It took us about 15 minutes to reach the center, but both of us were pleased with the experience.

Eventually, we made our way to the top of the wall and walked along the spine of the dragon and out onto the old head of the beast to admire the sea. We climbed down and exited the fortress after walking along the beach, looking through shells and stones, and visiting the Temple of the Sea God. We returned to the First Pass Hotel to check-in and take a nap before heading out in the evening. Both of us were quite tired after the long day and traveling and walking. And we wanted to be well-rested for New Year's Eve.

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