The Great Wall

We were picked up by our guide Jerry at 8.30am again this morning for the one and a half hour trip out to the Mutianyu Great Wall. It was a slow trip that ended up taking two hours due to the traffic, and we actually left the bus and walked the last 500 metres or so as we were going to be faster than the bus! As you get close to the wall you are walking uphill along a narrow cobbled road with stalls on both sides to buy souvenirs, food and drinks. The stall holders are very keen to sell and call out to you as you go past. They are pretty aggressive with their sales pitch but good fun and are always laughing and smiling.

To reach this section of the wall you must ride on a cable car that is like the chairlifts we have in the snow. there were a few nervous people as it is a long way up to the wall and a very long way from the ground. Once up on the wall there was the option of walking one section with many steep steps or the other direction which offered less steps and a more gentle climb. Visibility was limited due to the pollution but it was still possible to see old sections of the wall on the nearby ridges that have not been renovated for tourism. Those who chose the steeper section were able to walk out onto one of these old sections of wall and had a great view of the wall snaking back over hills and gullies to where we started from.

When it was time to return back to the bus we had the option of  riding the cable car or using the toboggan run. Of curse most of us decided on the toboggan and were not disappointed. It covers one and a half kilometres as is winds down the mountainside and there are lots of opportunities to test your nerve and let go of the brake. The best indication of your speed is seeing how much you are yelled at by the attendants on all of the corners. If they are waving a red flag, yelling and banging on the side of the track then you are travelling fast and having fun!

Once reaching the bottom there was an opportunity to barter and then it was on the bus for the 10 min drive to lunch. More than half the people on our bus slept most of the way back to Beijing. It was a slow trip due to traffic and we had  about 45 minutes at our hotel before being picked up for dinner. After dinner some people went to a special show demonstrating many ancient martial arts skills, others relaxed in their rooms and a group went for a walk to the ‘snack street’ area to see some local delicacies such as starfish, scorpions and spiders being sold from food stalls in a night market area.

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