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Great Wall Adventure August 10, 2010

Posted by manningdaniel in Travel Log.
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Our first weekend in China – I’m both excited and a little anxious about how we’re going to communicate and travel efficiently (or at all).  Of course, our destination is the Great Wall of China.  One of the wonders of the world this is a must see for anyone coming to visit China.  There are three different sections of the wall that are fairly popular to visit (note that I’m just going to sound out Chinese in the future): Battaling (most touristy), Mutianyu (not as crowded but just as beautiful), and Simatie (less crowded, very steep and somewhat dangerous).

Of course we choose to attempt to to Simatie.  Rather than hire anyone or talk to anybody about how to travel there, we follow a guide book that involves almost every mass transit known to man: a taxi to the Tianjin train station, a bullet train to Beijing, a bus to the countryside and a minibus to the wall itself.  Our plans is successful all the way until the minibus portion of the trip where we fail to communicate with anyone what it is we actually need and ultimately fail to get  there (thank you China).

Instead, we spend the night at a hostel in Beijing which turns out to be really awesome.  Its about a five minute walk from Tiananmen square and has a lot of touristy shopping areas near it – where it is definitely fun to barter for things.  Side story: “How much are these sunglasses?” “Oh, they’re very good quality, but for you, I can give you a very good price – 60 yuan each.” Us: “Ummm. No. We’ll do 45 yuan for 3 pairs of sunglasses.” Shopkeeper: “[yelling in Chinese]” We start to walk away. Shopkeeper: “(whispered voice and tapping us on shoulders) Ok, ok.” One pair of sunglasses for $2.20 – check.

We wake up and attempt the Great Wall again, this time to Mutianyu.  After a long minibus ride that our hostel set up for us, we eventually arrive, and it is well worth our struggle to get there.

Walking along the wall for about twenty minutes brings us to large stretches where we are nearly the only ones there.  The wall is absolutely gorgeous and exactly like you would imagine.  It sprawls out in a slightly zigzag pattern out into the distance – over the tops of hills and through the wooded mountains.  We take our time exploring guard towers and signal beacons.  Finally, when it is time to go down we decide to take the toboggan slide rather than walk.

Of course, with China and its lack of real safety laws, this toboggan slide is actually a metal half-pipe that winds its way down the mountain side and we can control the speed of our toboggan with no actual track.  Although it would definitely be possible to slide right out of a turn, it was an incredibly fun way to get down and one I will not likely forget.

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