So the Great Wall was quite impressive! It twists and turns, and IS STEEP. I was warned, (and she was right) that as far up as you go, you have to be ready to go down the same way; the wall just continues to other sections! On my way down, I met a gentleman training to be in the government. He said soon he would be a part of it, but when I mentioned visiting the US, he said that could not leave China. I asked why, and he explained that it is a cultural thing that he does not want to leave his parents because he is supposed to take care of them. "What about for just a week or two?" I asked. "The government will not let me" he added. Since he is going to be in the government, he is forbidden to leave the country for two years. Then he will learn "the secret" he says - whatever that might be. Most governments keep secrets, but I wonder what it is!!! He said he will not be able to tell his friends or family - pretty much like working for an organization like the CIA or DOD in the USA.
So the first Chinese person wanted a picture with me today!! I happily agreed and put my arm around him...then his friend wanted the same, and when the third friend went for a picture with me, his friends were already leaving! :( Perhaps I will be on a poster on their walls in the near future :) Do you want to experience what it's like to be a celebrity? If you are anything but Chinese or Asian-looking, come to China! They will stare at you, want pictures with you, stop you on the street (I have yet to be asked for an autograph though), and more! So I highly recommend a trip here first to see what it is like before embarking on this journey - test the waters first before diving in with all of your equipment on ;) ...I also entertained a Chinese baby, and in turn a small crowd on the metro, having a conversation with the infant using the limited vocabulary I know in Mandarin such as "you are beautiful", "cute", "hello", and "goodbye" :)
Random observations: China's overpopulation is evident when you get into onto the bus (or more appropriately) into the subway. You can feel your lack of space, so if you don't like your personal bubble being broken into, then DO NOT COME HERE. You can also find women with armpit hair, and actually many men with random long hairs protruding awkwardly from their faces. This is due to the apparent "naturality" of the hair. Many Chinese believe that the hair is beautiful and so they do not shave it, wherever it may grow. This of course, is not the case for all Chinese. This style- whether you might consider it "uncleanly" or "natural", plays into the how I believe the Chinese to perceive themselves. Many men (aside from the "barber shop boys" [as I call them] whom I see with nicely did-up hair strewn across their foreheads) seem not to care so much about their appearance, along with elderly women, while the younger women seem to care a bit more. The men let their guts hang out (those who have- and it is not a common sight as this population is ridiculously skinny to state what I see on a daily basis). It reminds me of how women pulled up their shirts from the bottom and pulled them through the top in the 80s - the Chinese men are essentially re-revolutionizing the 80s...without actually pulling the bottom part of the shirt up and through the top, just a slight lift!...I've also seen several men with a long pinky nail only, for whatever that's worth...
The relaxed feel also comes into my mind when observing such habits as smoking. It is very common to see the Chinese smoking everywhere - you name it, they are smoking in it - restaurants, clubs, etc. The overall atmosphere in such establishments appears to me to be less formal however, based on the few experiences I have had thus far. I was invited to sit at the outdoor table of a restaurant that I was not eating at, and had made that clear (that I was not eating there). I walked to the back of the kitchen in a restaurant I ate lunch at to try to point out what I wanted to eat. Granted, I am a tourist and certain things/opportunities may be granted to me, this is how I am perceiving life right now. The clubs appear not to have much of a dresscode either...more to come s