Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Great Wall of China and the Great Toilet of China

It had been ten years since we last saw the great wall, so during this visit to Beijing a second visit was in order. Despite the grand plans we had for Beijing Jesse seemed to come down with the flu and needed about three days of bed rest. Or, maybe she needed the bed rest because our bed in Beijing was another amazing Starwood bed situated in our very comfortable suite at St. Regis Beijing, where we did a Starwood Splurge to celebrate our anniversary. In any event, in this post you can read about two activities I did alone; touring the Great Wall of China, and using the Great Toilet of China (in our St. Regis suite). Enjoy (I know I did!).
A very comfortable living room.
A complimentary bottle of Veuve Clicquot.
And even a built-in charging station in the desk.
And a Toto B100 Washlet in the bathroom (more on this below)
Dream room.
 The Great Wall of China stretches for 3,889 miles. Rumor has it you can see it from space, but this rumor is apparently false. You can definitely see it, however, 77 miles from Beijing at Jinshanling, which is the third-closest section of the wall to Beijing open to visitors.  It is also where the Jinshaling-Simitai “Walk the Great Wall” walk begins. So on the fifth consequtive overcast day I made my way to Downtown Backpackers hostel to join a Jinshanlin-Simitai Great Wall Tour. I choose it for a number of reasons, in order of importance: 1) included in the tour was a snickers bar, OMG I love Snickers; 2) the tour did not include any stops at Jade factories, textiles museums, or art schools (phew); 3) I thought there was a better chance of meeting people I’d like to walk (and sit on the bus) with on a tour from a backpackers hostel than one from the St. Regis; and 4) it was way cheaper than any of the other tours I could find. Four really good reasons (especially reason no. 1).  Here are some photos:
The wall in the mist.
The stairs in the mist
Obligatory Asian pose in the mist
The unending wall in the unending haze in the unending mist.
And the tour was great. The bus was nice, everyone had a seat (obviously I snatched up the prime, single-seat with the extra legroom by the door), and they gave out the Snickers right away. Given the paved roads, smooth ride, and good people I met on the bus, I hardly minded the 3 hour ride out to Jinshanling. Once we arrived we donned our raingear and began the walk. Shrouded in mist and fog the wall looked very cool (well, at least as far as we could see along the wall, which was not that much). Over the 3 hour hike we walked over restored and original sections of the wall and it was interesting to see the difference (the restored sections are much nicer).
At times it was a real scramble
But the wall, it goes on and on and on
And on and on and on!
Perhaps my personal highlight came when we reached the end of the wall-walking portion of the day and I sat down to enjoy my lunch. It was a sandwich I took from the St. Regis breakfast buffet (Sorry Regers, I hope you understand). When I pulled out this behemoth of a sandwich, loaded with grilled sirloin, chicken breast, bacon, cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, and pickles (oh how I love sliced pickles on my sandwiches) and a chili-mayo aioli on a sesame-seed bagel the rest of the tour was really jealous (as they should have been) and were like, “where the heck did you get that?” I mumbled something about how my hotel had put it together for me….
Oh yeah.
And a close-up
And some signage on the way down:
So, I never found out if the Simatai scenic spot was truly scenic or not.

The view towards the Simatai scenic spot.  It looks substantially the same.

A map of where I walked

Fast forward 4 hours later that sandwich (and my Snickers) had rumbled through me. Back in the suite it was time for a visit to the Toto Washlet B100, the brand and model number of our crapper. Toto, as the more discerning among you may know, is “the global leader in intelligent bathroom fixtures … dedicated to bringing an unparalleled experience and high performance to your bath space, … and defining the next generation of luxury bath environments.”* And oh did it bring an unparalleled experience and some seriously high performance to my bath space.
The B100
You see, the B100 is not just a toilet, it is a “modern personal hygiene system that uses aerated water to clean gently, naturally and thoroughly.” Yes, with the mere “touch of a button, a nozzle extends from under the seat for soothing warm-water cleansing,” oh I love that. Better still, you can choose for a ‘Rear Cleansing,” a “Soft Rear Cleansing (“to wash the bottom with mild spray”), or “Front Cleansing” (which the instructions explain is “For ladies”). And, of course, within each of these options is the ability to control the wash position (forward and backward) and wash water temperature (though it's always warm – no Toto would ever give an icy blast rear cleaning!).
The control panel
For the more germ-phobic among you, the “nozzle self-cleans before every use” and for the more hedonistic, it “can be set to move back-and-forth for maximum comfort and optimum cleansing.”  Concerned that the delightful cleansing warm-water will leave you cold and wet when you’re done? Don’t be. The B100 has you covered with “the ease and comfort of hands-free drying with an temperature-adjustable warm-air dryer” It’s not like blowing hot air out of your ass, its blowing hot air onto your ass! And with all these great features, what if you just want to linger all day? No problem, the “specially designed contoured seat is heated to provide maximum comfort” and shaped to prevent your feet from falling asleep as you read, wash, and dry with effortless button pushing. It even has a built-in deorderizer and white-noise maker to keep everything as private as possible.
Cleansing nozzle, fully extended.  In taking this picture, nearly took a spray to the face (oooh, I guess I could have
just washed my face here...), but thankfully pulled back just in time.
I loved this toilet (and told the manager of the hotel so much). Mark my words, we will have one of these in my home one day, and you are all welcome to come and use it. I think I may have even liked the Great Toilet of China even more than the Great Wall.

* Toto Neorest promotional brochure (I had the hotel send up information and instructions on all of our luxury bathroom fixtures.

 See the Toto in action.  I miss you Toto.


  1. You crack me up! I had tears rolling down my face reading this! Mom

  2. wait til you get back to NY. They have PEANUT BUTTER SNICKERS now.....yummmm. very delicious. xoxo LG


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