Friday, January 30, 2009

China Chronicles: Day Five (Part One)

The Great Wall (really is great).

We got up extremely early to meet our tour guide for the day. Most day tours of the Wall cost anywhere from 20$ to 50$, so of course we opted for the cheapest option. You'd think we would have gotten the bare minimum tour for this price, but actually (and I do not like organized tours) we saw a lot, learned a lot and ate some delicious food for a minimum cost. When you are planning a trip to the Great Wall, don't pay anything over 20 bucks!

Our guide arrived at 7 AM and took us to the bus in the freezing cold. I fell asleep immediately. When I woke up, there were more people on the bus from the States, Korea (what a coincidence!) and Canada. They were all nice people. We were a happy and enthusiastic bunch, needless to say. Also, when I woke up, I looked out my window and saw nothing but beautiful mountains on all sides. If I squinted I could take my first glimpse of the Great Wall, winding along the tops of the mountains. It was a magical moment.

The magic sorta ended when we arrived at the Badaling portion of the Wall and our guide told us we had two options.

"You can either hike up the mountain in the freezing cold, or you can take the rollercoaster up and then take it back down".

Um... what? Rollercoaster? That wasn't what I was expecting. Also, it looked pretty rusty. And the guys operating it looked pretty young.

So of course, we all decided to go on the rollercoaster and risk our lives rather than face the bitter Mongolian wind. It was much colder here than it was even in Beijing! * Am I really from Canada?

When we got to the top, we proceeded to make our way to the top of the Badaling section. Some parts were really steep, and some were pretty icy, but there were people everywhere and even more people there shovelling the snow and scraping the ice. So it was fine, albeit crowded. If I go again, I would go to a different, less touristy section of the Wall as Badaling seems to be the place everyone takes their group tours.

Regardless of what I will do next time, I really enjoyed myself on Badaling. It was beautiful, the Wall stretched out as far as the eye could see, and it was a beautiful day despite the freezing cold.

Communist garb on the Great Wall. I couldn't figure out why so many Chinese men were laughing at me as I walked along. The only reason I even wore the hat was because it protected my cheeks. I soon figured out that, even though I was not the only tourist on the Wall wearing this hat, I was the only person wearing the hat, carrying a communist bag with another big red star on it, wearing a khaki jacket and wearing bright red mittens. I looked like a Chinese soldier.

"Char! Bernie! Give me a pose that says 'I'm extremely cold'".

More self portraits.

Braving the wind for a few seconds...

Hello, comrade.

Wall-ey Greatness.

People going uphill. We were some of the few non-Chinese tourists there.


Scared, going uphill on the "rollercoaster".

More wall.

And more!

The whole group.

We made it to the top!

Now it's time to go back down...

Angry communist pose (sorry for making fun of communists so much- I actually really enjoyed my outfit).

Getting ready to go back down...

1 comment:

Amanda said...

So jealous! Looks amaaaaaay-zing.