By Bill Pratt
The Great Wall of China was our next stop while in the Beijing area. Rusty was able to select an area of the wall that was two hours out of town in an absolutely beautiful agricultural area. We took a motor coach that was piloted by a driver who would have felt very comfortable at the Daytona Motor Speedway. He whisked us through all kinds of traffic and delivered us safe and sound to the Great Wall. We then had to weave our way through all the merchants and then pile into gondolas that took us to the top of the mountain. It was just a short walk to the wall where we would find more merchants, bricklayers, and a small handful of tourists. The weather was overcast and it was intermittently raining. We did not care because we were walking on the Great Wall. Wow…what a fantastic feeling. Just 48 hours earlier, I was flying from Seattle to Beijing and now I was walking on a very famous part of Chinese history.
After taking tons of pictures including a staged picture with a Mongolian Warrior, we walked down the mountain (no gondola this time) and enjoyed the merchants one more time. This is when Rusty put me through a most valuable lesson…Negotiations 101. Rusty wanted to buy some Great Wall T-shirts and I wanted a fast lesson. We were treated to prices that would have you forking out the dollars immediately. But Rusty kept on negotiating. He offered 10 cents on the dollar. Now the negotiating skills kicked into high gear. The merchant did not want to have anything to do with Rusty’s ridiculously low prices. Rusty then added more shirts to the pile and increased the price just marginally. The merchant still said no. Rusty then walked up to the merchant; turned sideways and said “say $10 dollars…say $10”. The merchant started to laugh and eventually sold all the shirts for an almost rock bottom price. This was to be the start of five weeks of negotiations that will always, in part, be based on this deal for the shirts.
We then stopped for a delicious Chinese lunch, which was served family style. Our eating habits were all learned from travel books, health pamphlets and Rusty’s experience from previous travels. Only eat hot (steaming hot) food, beer, Coke, sealed bottle water (you open it) and no salads, no ice, no deserts…or be prepared to be sick within 45 minutes. We cleaned our hands with liquid hand cleaner (thanks REI) and never put our hands near our mouth and eyes (Enough of the orifice stories).
Our team wanted everyone to know we were riding motorcycles. Rusty and Randy carried their helmets for the entire Great Wall tour. The Mongolian Warrior enjoyed a cigarette after this picture was taken.
Ó Copyright, Bill Pratt, Mill Creek, WA – March 2001