This enormous collection of lakes, parkland, temples and pavilions to the northwest of Tiananmen began in the 12th century as a cool escape from the heat of Beijing's broiling summers for the Imperial family. The entrance looks a lot like the Forbidden City, but a quick walk through the first series of halls brings visitors to a large lake filled with families happily churning paddle boats.
The theme of the sheer size of China's tourists attractions continued. "Everything here that's beautiful is either really long or really high," says Nico Ursem, a builder in Amsterdam. "You must have strong legs to be a tourist here."
Built to keep the barbarians out, the Great Wall failed miserably at its assigned task. But today the barbarians flock to it, with buses loading and unloading every five minutes. At Badaling, the nearest portion to Beijing, Oscar Ramirez, a doctor with the Cuban Olympic team, was worried that some of the less fit visitors he saw hiking up the steep wall might have heart attacks. "Is there a hospital nearby?" he wondered.