Monday, June 26, 2006

Day 3 (20th June 2006)

7.30am - Already on the bus and ready for our tour.

8.30am – Our first stop, jade factory. The first cut is the rough cut. Then the master ‘cutter’ would shape the jade to the desired designs. We were also taught how to differentiate original jade and fake jade. Basically original jade would have ‘murky’ texture when look through the light. Then there’s the ‘pitch’ test. The higher the note sound, the better the jade is.

10.00am – The bus is off to Great wall. I asked our guide, which portion of the wall are we heading. I really don’t want to go to the Badailing section because it’s the most touristy section of the wall. Unfortunately, the guides (Dzul and Fariz) could not answer my question adequately.

10.40am – We exited the Badailing Expressway at Shinguan exit (not sure if I got the spelling or the pronunciation right). Finally, THE GREAT WALL of China! The highlight of the trip (at least for me). This section is build on a hilly side of China. Along the way, I notice granite bricks laying near the roadside. The bricks were probably for restoration work on the wall.

After a group photo, we ascend the wall. I’ve climbed the steps to Batu Caves in Malaysia twice, but the climbed up the Great Wall was definitely more challenging and steep. The steps were irregular and steep. Definitely more steps than that of Batu Caves. After all, the Wall actually goes up the hill. Imagine how hard it was for ancient soldiers to climb the wall with all their armours. From the watchtower, the people at the car park looks like ants (maybe I am exaggerating, but they look small).

As I sat at the tower, I wondered, why didn’t I climbed the wall on the right of the ‘entrance’. It has fewer tourists thronging the steps. Nevertheless, the view was breathtaking (due to breathlessness of the climb and the spectacular view). My only regret is that I did not take more photos.

12.15pm – After an even more challenging descend (I’m actually one of those who are afraid of height), I reached the car park. We boarded the bus to lunch. On the bus, I felt my knees trembling. Not because of the climb, but because of the height.

1.00pm – We reach a cloisonne factory. It served as an art workshop cum restaurant. Cloisonne is actually a craft of using copper and enamel to make vase, container and other artwork. I couldn’t actually made out what the translator was saying but basically there are 7 steps (if I remember them correctly):
1)shape – Copper plates are hammered to shape into vase or any other container.
2)prints / motives – strips of copper is glued to the main container to form prints and motives.
3)colour – some paste (I think it is enamel) with colours are filled into to grooves formed by the copper strips.
4)Burn – First burn. Perhaps to let the paste set in the grooves.
5)Baked –The cloisonné is baked in clay oven.
6)Enamel filing – If I’m not mistaken so that the cloisonné have that smooth surface.
7)Polish – So that the cloisonné have a shining surface.
After the educational tour, we were taken upstairs for our lunch. The window behind us opened to green hills.

2.30pm - Left for traditional medicine factory. Journey took about 1/2 hour. The staff demonstrated some of their products. She even went to the extend of scalding her palm using a red-hot iron. The smell of burnt meat filled the small room. We could see the reddish-and-brownish line on her palm. She applied one of the cream, ‘Bao Fu Ling’. Then she continued with her demonstration. After a while, she wiped her hand. Lo and behold, the scalding was gone!

3.30pm – The bus left the factory. According to our guides, for window-shopping. The guides asked us to compare prices between the three places that we would be going. We would be going to the same places on the fourth day for actual shopping.

4.30pm - First shopping complex, Shioawen shu men (the name sounds suspiciously wrong). I bargained for small table cloths (or was it table napkin?) from a shop manned by two old ladies. Gang was quite angry for that. I was ticked by both Ma Hen and Gang for it till the rest of the trip.

5.45pm – Second complex, Chaowai Yueshow.

7.15pm – The third, Wujiang Street, was more like Bukit Bintang area in KL. We were shocked to discover that even in department store, you could bargain!

8.15pm – We had our dinner before heading back to our hotel.

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