Welcome back! Hope everyone is having a great week! I left you last in Beijing after tours of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, both of which I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend. Hiking The Great Wall of China tops many a bucket list, my own included, so needless to say, I had been looking forward to this portion of the trip since my arrival.
The Great Wall is over 13,000 miles long in it’s entirety and runs roughly along the border between China and Mongolia. The section we visited was located about an hour and a half outside of Beijing, which we got to by bus with a small tour group. Anna and I woke up early and grabbed breakfast to-go (tuna sandwich, I’m looking at you) from our hostel before catching the bus. The area between Beijing and the Great Wall was very rural, and seemingly very poor. This made the ride rather uneventful as there wasn’t much to look at save a dilapidated home/farm every now and then.
Once we got to the wall, our semi-English speaking tour guide handed us off to our actual tour guide. He looked to be about 87, spoke absolutely no English and was in exceptionally better shape than anyone in our group, myself included. Anticipating the cold weather, I made sure to wear several layers of clothing on both the top and the bottom. Mistake. The day became unseasonably warm as soon as we arrived at the wall and I quickly learned that our hike was going to be a lot more physically demanding than I’d imagined. The wall is extremely hilly, with lots and lots of narrow steps in certain sections and very steep inclines and declines in others.
Thanks to my 4 pairs of pants and stopping to take pictures every 7 seconds, I lagged behind the rest of the group for most of the hike.
Our (not so) sweet tour guide walked slowly behind me (to ensure I didn’t fall over the edge I’m sure) and made “tut tut” noises each time I got out my camera.
Despite the unpleasant tour guide noises, and sweating profusely under all my layers, the Wall was absolutely breathtaking. We hiked a 13 mile section and it offered views unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. My camera at the time was not the best quality (I’ve since gotten a much better one from Robert for Christmas!) but the pictures really speak for themselves.
After we completed our hike, we were bussed back to our hostel where we got ready for the second highlight of the day, a Chinese acrobat show!
Cameras were not allowed, but I did manage to sneak a few pictures under my jacket. Excuse the poor quality, best I could do under the circumstances. I like to defy the “no pictures” rules when on vacation but after seeing so many guards with guns at Tiananmen Square the previous day, I wasn’t taking any unnecessary chances.
The acrobat show was really spectacular, similar to Cirque De Soleil if you have ever had the good fortune to attend a show! As someone who has never been able to touch her toes (I know), seeing the shapes the contortionists were able to morph into was incomprehensible. Unless you are a trained acrobat from birth (like I’m pretty sure all of those performers were) or have no bones in your body, do not attempt to replicate their feats at home.
It was late when we left the acrobat show, so we stopped by McDonald’s to grab something familiar for dinner. It’s ok to eat a Chinese big mac for dinner after you spent your morning hiking the Great Wall. We were fortunate enough to catch the employees taking a group picture, 0ffice Christmas card maybe?
The next day would be our final day in Beijing which we planned to spend doing a little more sight seeing and some very serious shopping (and haggling). Stay tuned for the train back to Shanghai for the final leg of our trip!