Monday, August 2, 2010

Tourism Essentials in Beijing: The Great Wall

The day after we sweated it out at the Forbidden City, we joined some backpackers from Norway, Canada, and England who were also staying at our hotel and took a jaunt up to the Great Wall early in the morning, before the crowds hit.

You can hike from the base of the mountain to the Wall, but it takes an hour and it's steep and like we said, it was HOT. And once you get on the Wall it's still steep and hot. So, given that I'm pregnant, we took the easy way up:

From china

From china

Look at that, blue sky! How often do you see that in China? Since it'd rained forever our first day in Beijing, the sky was blue most of the time we were there, instead of smog-filled and gray. Gorgeous.

Anyways, besides the blue, note that those old ski-lifts are held on by a rather small little hinge there, and it made both Isaac and I distinctly nervous. Who KNOWS how well-maintained they are!

And this is how you get back down:

From china

Via toboggan!

From china

It was gorgeous at the top, and again, extremely hot.

From china

Parts were walkable like the one above, but some spots were extremely steep, with HUUUGe giant sized steps. We took our time and rested in the guard houses.

From china

From china

One of my friends said the Great Wall is the most impressive thing she's ever seen, and it is pretty dang impressive. It's not actually one long wall, it was built in segments and pieces. Still, it's amazing to see it trailing off into the distance and think about how they built this huge wall on mountain ridges...

From our part of the Wall you could see other old sections in the distance on ridges of mountains by discerning the little guard houses dotting the horizon.

From china

After we got to the bottom we took refuge in AC, avoided the over-priced hawker stands, and joined our tour group for some really good Chinese food. My hands still ached when I had to use chopsticks for a whole meal, but I was getting the hang of it.

I definitely liked doing the Wall in the early morning, before the crowds. I liked going with a group of crazy-fun backpackers. I loved the blue sky, and the Wall itself is very cool. I probably wouldn't say it's the coolest thing I've seen, though. And again, I definitely think it would be so much more fun in the spring or fall when it's not brutally hot!

All in all, that's a major world attraction crossed off our list!

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