Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Visiting the Wall was an impromptu trip, though I'd wanted to do something fun for Jake's upcoming birthday. Having our hosts, Helen and John, and Helen's sister join us was completely sporadic, and it turned out to be pretty fun. John is an expert navigator and also both he and Helen are very much overprotective parents, which is certainly preferable to "Here's a map. Good on ya." John likes to linger near the front of all public transport and make small talk with the drivers. They apparently mostly talk about the traffic. Helen can't really explain why he does this.
But anyway, he and Helen got us to Laolongtou, then Helen's sister took Jake and me inside the attraction. The weather was absolutely beautiful - slightly breezy, maybe a little overcast, and just hot enough to have the salt water air stick on your skin - as we hiked through the many corridors to the Dragon's Head. As we trekked down a particularly steep and eroded ravine, I said, "At least it's not raining."
In the midst of all this history and beauty, I think the thing Jake and I were most excited for was the looming Pacific Ocean, greyish and smeared with seaweed. Helen's sister declined to join us on the beach, but, shoes off, Jake and I curtailed it towards the shore and splashed into the ocean, climbing on the slippery, smooth rocks and feeling the gritty sand grind against the soles of our still winter-acclimated feet.
Behind us was the Dragon's Head and in the distance the Temple of the Goddess of the Sea, where, feet still sprinkled with tan and silver bits of sand, we headed for next. As we crossed the pass to descend the steps, Helen's sister, who speaks virtually no English, began frantically waving her hand and shouting, "Come on!" A nearly black sky rolled across the Pacific, encompassing the Dragon's Head in dark, grey shadows. At first, I pointed to the sky and said, "Dun, dun, dun," and then I remembered that I knew how to say bad in Chinese. So I pointed again and said, "Bu hao."
"Dui," Helen's sister agreed. "Bu hao!"