There was a charge to climb, so most of the group declared it a ripoff and went elsewhere--probably to see more of the gardens--but we paid and climbed. And climbed. And climbed. It actually wasn't very challenging, except that the stairs were a remarkable number of different heights and widths, all too narrow for our big American feet. Oh, and it was dark.
The beautifully carved archways were only about 4 or 5 inches too low for my younger son to pass through, so there was a fair amount of bobbing, weaving and head-bonking while walking sideways in the dark. And none of us could ever explain the mysterious white powder that somehow got all over me, but nobody else. It was great!
When we got to the bottom, we were invited to ring the enormous bell. Of course, there was an additional charge for this. The boys concluded that, having come all the way to China and climbing the tower, it only made sense to ring the bell. Seemed logical to me. We paid, we rang, we laughed.
Sure, you don't want to be the hapless tourist who falls for every crazy scheme to separate you from your money, but you know what? It was fun at the time, and made a happy memory for later. Prudent or not, sometimes ya just gotta ring the bell.
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