Ok, first off. I did go shopping at Panjianyuan (The dirt market) in Beijing. I was pretty happy because I didn't feel the need to buy lots of stuff, I found a few items that I liked, were within my "budget" and would be great additions to the house for decor (as I plan on finally decorating my house soon after 7 years of living with "rented" furnishings. Anyway, I spent less than 50 US, ended up with 5 handbound silk cover photo albums with rice paper that will be Christmas gifts (ok family so you already know what it is... but what tell you see what I do with them!)
Plus, I got a leather covered box with a tray inside. This will eventually become a TV remote/TV guide box on my coffee table. Finally I got the most awesome Chairman Mao metal placard that will match my antique cultural revolution posters that I have been waiting to frame. I feel that was a pretty good score for $50.
But, let me tell you about this great thing happening at the great wall. Mr. James Spear, his wife Liang and their partner Fred He are doing good things. I really am very impressed. Jim, Fred and Liang have opened up an abandoned school house, turned it into a retreat/restaurant and will also have a glass blowing facility with a gift shop included. You can see some pictures of the facility here. It is the goal to provide work for the villagers of Mutianyu-other than selling trinkets and crap on the wall. The glass blowing facility (coupled with other plans that the group has for new facilities) will also be staff (waiters, groundskeeper, kitchen staff, Gift shop staff) all with village residents. I applaud the work of these great innovators. They want to spread by word of mouth and I will really try to tell all of the people I know about them.
So, if you are in Beijing and you want to visit the Great Wall of China, why not go to Mutianyu. Stop off at the Schoolhouse after your wall climb, grab a snack, visit the glass blowing facility and know that the money you spend will go towards a better more sustainable future for the residents of Mutianyu Village.
kudos Jim, Liang and Fred