Me and Chairman Mao
Yesterday we went to the Great Wall. Well, part of it at least. The entire thing is a bit much to do in one day. (Officially, it's 3,850 miles long, and it would be about 9,300 miles if it were stretched out end-to-end, instead of coiled around itself like a health-conscious boa constrictor doing yoga.) Since the section of the Great Wall we went to is really, really steep, I'd say we managed to walk about, oh, zero-point-five miles in total, leaving only 9,299.5 miles or so unseen. (For the record, that's about .006 percent of the entire length.)

However, in our short-walking defense, we also had to walk back to where we started, so really it was more like a mile. Plus, it's pretty steep in parts, so it felt like even more, possibly up to a mile and a half. And in those terms, that means we really knocked off about .01 percent of the entire Wall, which sounds much, much better. At least, I think it does. (And no, I don't really care what you think, but I might pretend to if I want something from you, or if you buy me coffee or a fabulously expensive gift--see entry below--or something.)

The section of the Wall we went to is called Mutianyu. (Since the Wall is fairly long--you've probably gotten that already--only certain sections have been restored for tourists.) The best part about it? It has a slide. Yes, a slide. And not just a slide, but a one-mile long slide that twists and turns its way down the hill like an Olympic bobsled track. The Wall is built along the hilltop, so you can take a cable car or a chairlift up to the Wall itself (otherwise, it's a really long, really steep hike), and then--if you so desire, and I definitely desired--you can, after walking along the Wall as long as you please, slide back down to the bottom on a sled with wheels. Also apparently known as a toboggan, although I always had the impression that snow had to be involved with that somehow. Guess not.

Anyway, the brochure I picked up before hopping on the chairlift had this to say about the contraption, albeit in somewhat non-standard English:

Toboggan mixed sports and entertainment became a new amusement project. It is also called 'Nonirrigated farmland sled' . Toboggan uses the theory of acceleration of gravity and makes coasters dive along the mountain path like low–latitude flying or high–speed driving.

Not for the first time since I've been here, I will say to you: "How could I make this stuff up?" And not just calling the plastic toboggan-type thing a "Nonirrigated farmland sled," either. (Although, given the "night soil" issue that I talked about a week or so ago, I am really, really glad it's not an "irrigated farmland sled" …) I would also like to know who thought of using the toboggan/farmland sled hybrid. Who was the person who first said--despite the fact that a cable-car was, presumably, already in place--"Hey, we should put in a slide!"

That, my friends, is what they call thinking outside the box. Way outside the box. I mean, imagine if they did the same thing in America, maybe at Mount Rushmore: climb to the top of the viewing platform, get a good look up Abe's nostrils, and then slide back down to the bottom. Really, I think it would catch on. It could work at other places, too, I'm sure of it: I'm thinking a nice corkscrew-spiral slide winding around the outside of the Washington Monument, and maybe a huge waterslide at the Grand Canyon so people could innertube down to the bottom instead of walking. That would be great. Seriously, how much better would the Grand Canyon be with a waterslide? Maybe with a waterslide I'd actually get around to go seeing it …

Holly and Lisa Enjoy Nonirrigated Farmland Sledding!

Local Dub Update. Sadly, there is nothing new to report from the wonderful world of Chinese subtitles, but the good news is that there will be soon. The funny subtitles generally only show up on movies that are still in theaters, not those that are already out on DVD. (The "real" DVDs simply have the English subtitles for the DVD permanently switched "on," so it's all--unfortunately--correct.) Recently, we've been watching the real DVDs; however, we just bought The Polar Express and National Treasure (for a dollar each, why not?), and I have high hopes for both of those. I can't wait to see how they translate Santa Claus ...

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