Yesterday I visited the Great Wall at Simatai. The Wall at Simatai was first built in the 6th century and renovated in the 14th, and since then there has been very little restoration work done on the Wall, so more or less all of it is the real Ming Dynasty deal. The Chinese tend not to talk about visiting the Wall so much as "climbing it," and at Simatai where the Wall snakes over the tops of mountains, the climb is a fairly grueling one. It's a beautiful place, though. After climbing the Wall, we ate in a cafeteria where a large picture of Simatai was on display with the caption 龍入云雾 ("The Dragon enters the Clouds and Mist"), which may sound like something out of a second-rate kung fu movie but gets the effect of the place pretty well. Whether because of pollution or because of the natural climate, a white fog tends to fill the valleys between the peaks, giving the landscape the muted appearance of a Chinese painting. These pictures aren't great, but they might do something to give the impression of the Great Wall:
hutong district of the city. American expatriates in Beijing seem to be having the time of their lives. I, on the other hand, have a disconcerting number of characters to memorize.
*While it's not usually policy on the Foreign Devil to use people's real names, I think it's a necessary corrective in a city where everyone, but foreigners especially, is reinventing himself with reckless abandon.