Thursday, October 2, 2014

Learning about China's Great Wall and the Yangtze River

Ni Hao from China. Ni Hao is how we greet people in China. China is an amazing place with a very long history.  It is one of the largest countries in the world and it has the most people.  Before we went to China we watched a video called, “The Last Emperor.”  It was about Puyi who became emperor of China when he was two years old.  He lived in a palace called The
Forbidden City. It was called the Forbidden City because only the royal family and their servants, of whom there were many, were allowed inside the walls.  It sounds like a wonderful life to have so many servants and be the Emperor, doesn’t it?  Things didn’t turn out so well for Emporer Puyi because there was a revolution and China created a new kind of government without an emperor. Emperor Puyi was put in prison for many years and when he was released he spent years as a gardener. He was the last emperor of China. We visited the
Forbidden City which is in the Chinese capital of Beijing. The Forbidden City, surrounded by a moat and a wall, has many beautiful buildings. It was built in the 1400s and had nearly 1000 buildings.  Today, it is the most popular place for tourists and thousands visit every day.  We loved the beautiful red buildings and stone bridges but our favorite place was the garden. There were many old trees and small colorful buildings.  I think Puyi may have enjoyed being a gardener.

The other popular tourist site in China is the Great Wall of China.  How long is it? It is hard to be sure because some of it has been destroyed but it is about 5,500 miles long.  If it was in the United States it would go from the East Coast to the West Coast with plenty left over.  It was started in 476 BC (BC means before the birth of Christ) and they continued to build parts
of it until the 1600s. It was supposed to protect them from invaders
but it didn’t. It is the longest structure every built. In some areas the wall is 30 feet wide and 26 feet high. It is impressive. We visited one section where we had to walk up a hill to a cable car that took us nearly to the top of the wall but there were steps the rest of the way.  The area was mountainous. We thought that building the wall so many years ago without the machinery we have today must have been very difficult. 

While we were in China we took a boat trip on the Yangtze River, the third-longest river in the world.  It is nearly 4000 miles long but we only traveled on a short part of it.  We were in the Three Gorges area where there is a huge dam with a power plant that generates electricity.  It is one of the world’s biggest. When they built the dam it backed the water up into the gorges and flooded many villages so the government built new villages on higher land for over one million people. Many people were upset
but China needed the electrical power. One of the places we visited along the river was the Tribe of the Three Gorges. It is a village that preserves the traditional life of the people who used to live in the area.  While we were there they performed a traditional wedding ceremony which was very colorful.  The groom did not know what his bride looked like until the end of the ceremony when he lifted her veil.  Today, China is very modern and clean. There are many interesting things to see and do.