I’m posting out of order, but I’m still in Beijing and will have a lot to cover.
The Great Wall of China is something I’ve always wanted to see, so I’m really glad I got here.
After talking with J, J & C, we debated between going on our own vs. a tour and decided on the tour from the hostel I was staying at. 1-we didn’t want to go to Badaling, the section closes to Beijing and known for being overrun with tourists. 2-we wanted someone who would tell us about the history of the wall and things we didn’t know on our own. 3-getting to the lesser-visited sections is tough on public transit, especially if you don’t speak Chinese.
The tour to Mutianyu section from the hostel included round-trip transportation, breakfast & lunch, a guide, and the entrance fee to the park, so it seemed like a good plan. What they didn’t tell us is that you basically HAVE to take a cable car to get up to the wall, since walking up is 1 hour each way, and you only have 3 hours at the wall, so that was an extra $15 US that we didn’t expect.
The tour guide was also awful. He didn’t tell us anything that wasn’t on a sign, so I don’t know why he was even there. He repeated himself a bunch and basically wasted some of the time that we could have been exploring, because listening to him repeat himself with info on the sign next to him was basically pointless.
The bus driver was INTENSE. It was a combination of Demolition Derby and Indy 500, but we were at the Great Wall!
Mutianyu section starts with a rebuilt/refurbished piece and then trickles out into run-down and dilapidated sections, so it was nice to see a combination. Some of the sections were STEEP, and we managed to get pretty far with our group. J and J managed to pass 18 guard towers, which was really impressive. C and I joined up with 2 Brits and 2 Americans, and we made it for 16 towers, which I was still pretty happy about.
I also need to add that there were vendors on the Great Wall selling drinks, snacks & merchandise, and we are still baffled about how they got all of their wares up to some of the points where they were selling, because that’s a lot of weight to carry on some of these paths/inclines.
Walking back, we passed a martial arts guy who had just earned his black belt and was taking some ridiculous pictures on the wall and a wedding, then we took the cable car back down for the lunch (which was a communal type of meal and really delicious). After another harrowing bus ride, we arrived back in Beijing exhausted and smelling like sweat, but everyone was super pumped about having seen the Great Wall.
Next post: Beijing and how awesome it is.