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塞夫琳十二天中国纪行 Twelve Days in China(3)

Day Three: On the Great Wall, A Dream cometrue

 

□ Time:  June the 16th, 2016

□ Location: Badaling Great Wall and the Forbidden City

□ Reporter: Wang Meiling

 

The Great Wall was the first destination inher journey. It was also the background of one of her photoshopped images onFacebook.

We arrived at the foot of the Great Wallabout 8:30 am. Having spotted foreign faces among us, the stallholders on theside of the road tried to sell shawls, sun-glasses, hats and so on to us.Seveline bought a hat with pink flowery rims.

We chose to take cable cars instead ofclimbing on foot to save some energy. It was the first time Seveline ever tookcable cars and she asked to sit by the window. On the ride which lasted severalminutes, she looked around frequently, getting a bird’s eye view of the GreatWall snaking across the mountains. She must have been so thrilled to finallysee this place that she had been dreaming about.

Getting off the cable cars, we followed thecrowd to climb up. The steps were very steep, and Seveline struggled a bit witha pair of high-heeled shoes. We suggested to her last evening that she wear apair of sneakers or flats this morning, but she considered her high heelsprettier for taking snapshots on the Great Wall and insisted to wear them. Werespected her choice and kept enough room around her to manoeuver. She held thehandrail, climbing up the steps slowly. With the last several hundred metersleft, the steps were even more crowded and steeper. I could barely keep balancewearing a pair of flats. Seveline decided to change to a pair of walking shoes.It was much easier. We marched towards the highest point while looking for goodangle to take pictures.

The Great Wall is an iconic symbol of Chinato many foreigners. It must mean something special to Seveline as her firststop in the tour of Beijing.

In fact the whole event was special, notonly to her but also to all of us. As for myself, since learning that Sevelinewas coming to China and I would accompany her for several days, I had beenthinking about giving her a souvenir. As a Chinese friend to her, I wanted togive my best wishes to this Kenya girl who was bravely pursuing her dreams.

The night before we went to the Great Wall,I sought out a pearl necklace. It was a gift for myself on the first Women’sDay after I had given birth to my child, to mark a special moment of my life.It was brand new. I never wore it. I decided to give it to Seveline, hoping herlife should be as bright and perfect as the pearls.

On top of the Great Wall, I gave her thegift, telling her what the necklace meant to me and all my wishes for her. “Ilike the gift very much and I will always carry it.” She said.

The next stop was the Forbidden City. Wedrove straightly downtown to have lunch to save some time. Seveline hadn’t gotused to Chinese food yet. Last night when we had Beijing cuisine, she was mostimpressed by Peking roast duck and seemed to like it more than other things. Iunderstood that back home her favorite food was roast chicken, so I decided totry Kentucky Fried Chicken. We asked Seveline if there were any KFCs inNairobi, and quite surprised to see that she had never heard of it. Later wewere told by Mr. Kabiru that there were KFCs in Nairobi and they were quitepopular.

We chose to eat lunch at a KFC near theForbidden City in Qianmen. Seveline loved the chicken and French fries, as theytasted very much like the food back home.

She told us about her family and hometownduring lunch. She asked for a pen and several pieces of paper to write downsome English words to help us understand.

She was born in Meru, an east county inKenya. It was cool and humid, with agriculture the main industry. There are alot of crops cultivated in greenhouses, such as onions, kidney beans, corns,potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, coffee, tea, avocados and rice.

Her father is a farmer, and her motherdelivers milk. She helped her mother to deliver milk before she moved toNairobi (she had been there for less than two months).

She asked us if people practice femalecircumcisions (FGM) in China. I told her we did not. She said that Meru wascomposed of several districts and people were still practicing this procedurein some remote areas. She also told us that male circumcision was still quitecommon.

After lunch, we walked across the TiananmenSquare from Qianmen. It was the hottest hour of the day. We took some snapshotsin a hurry and went through the tunnel, where a lot of tourists were staying tokeep away from the sun. Seveline told us that it was even hotter in herhometown near the equator.

The afternoon tour was relatively simple.We gave Seveline some general ideas about Tiananmen Square, the portrait ofChairman Mao and the Palace Museum beforehand, and then followed the main routeinside the Forbidden City, chatting and taking pictures along the way.

The buildings roofed with the yellow glazedtiles in the Forbidden City were all very Chinese and interested Sevelinedeeply. She asked me about the making procedure of the tiles and the life ofancient kings. She thought that some kings were still living here. We told herthat the palace had been made a museum for tourists to visit and no one livedin here any longer.

Seveline asked us about her scheduled tripto Shenzhen (which was cancelled due to shortage of time) when we were taking arest, because she wanted to buy a smart phone there. She heard from her friendsthat Shenzhen was a paradise for shopping, especially for affordable and usefulgadgets. She planned to spend 30 dollars (200 RMB) on a sleek and powerfulsmartphone. The topic of Shenzhen drew everybody in. We told Seveline thatShenzhen was one of the most developed cities in China, a center for science,technology and innovation, and since the level of consumption was very highthere, it might be difficult to buy a smartphone for 30 dollars, unless it waswithout trademark. We told her that she could try her luck.

We wrapped up the day with the tour in theForbidden City. Cuisine, sightseeing, the company of friends and endlesstopics: I guessed this was what travel meant to us.