Here’s what awaited us when we got out of our Uber and walked up to the Wall. Free enterprise at its finest! (In China Uber is called something else, but I can’t remember what it is. Ultra-cheap, though.) It was very handy having Matt with us, because being a tour guide AND a Beijing resident all in one meant that he knew what to do and how to organise it.
I had to laugh when I saw a Burger King here. China’s isolation has certainly faded over the years!
Helen and Rick went first on the chairlift; you can see Helen looking back at Matt and I. It’s a very civilised way to make it up to the Wall.
The Great Wall has a brooding, medieval appearance as we got closer.
And then we were there!
The drainage tracks were a simple yet effective way to ensure that the Wall stayed dry underfoot when it rained.
This was inside one of the guardhouses. There were 14 guardhouses along this stretch of the Wall. The other 3 walked the whole stretch, but I only did 7 before I turned back. I know my limitations, especially after my walk on the mountain in North Korea!
Here’s Rick looking like the epitome of a bronzed Aussie on holidays.
As we walked along we came across a bride having wedding photos taken.
This is pretty much the view I had of the others the whole way along.
There was one thing I noticed pretty quickly about this wall – it wasn’t exactly level.
I’m in China! On the Great Wall! This is one place I never thought I’d see – I’m such a Europhile. Still – never say never. Life’s so exciting.
This set of steps was pretty brutal. They were steep and also shallow, so you end up stepping in ways that aren’t a natural fit.
And the highs and lows go on and on…
Ohhh… glass stairs.
Looking at that tower, I felt like I was back in Lincoln for a sec.
Tourists posing for a happy snap. Those stairs kept getting steeper and steeper.
But you can’t deny that the view was very spectacular. Look at the way the Wall snakes over the mountains.
Yikes! I still remember this set of stairs. They were steep and HIGH.
This was at the next bit. The staps on the right are leading up to another guardhouse. It was a warm day, but not too hot. Just perfect for walking.
The guardhouses don’t look like they would have been exactly filled with creature comforts. It must have been a miserable place here at times, particularly in the depths of winter and the heights of summer.
But this little teardrop of a window was pretty.
I was ambling along, enjoying myself, when I suddenly caught a glimpse of what lay ahead…
That’s a lot of Wall. A lot of ups and downsy steps. Did I really want to do all of it?
Here was where we stopped so Helen could visit the loo. I’ve never known a woman to need the toilet so often!
The rest of us did a lot of this on this trip. (Hello Helen, if you’re reading this. We all love you!!)
This was the place where I suggested that they go on while I turn back. I’d made it halfway along, so I figured that by the time I walked back it would be as if I’d walked the entire length of this section. That’s Mathematically sound, surely?
So they headed off and I turned around and started back.
I called out to them and gave them a last wave, then we went our separate ways.
These steps are steep. I can’t believe I made it all the way up on the way here. I must be a Superwoman.
Somewhere along the way here I fell into conversation with an American woman and her daughter. They were fascinated to hear that ‘d just come from North Korea, so we stopped and had a break while I told them a bit about it and showed them photos and videos. Unless the political situation changes dramatically it’s a place they’d never be able to see, so they loved seeing the snippets I could show them.
This girl was quietly sitting, catching up on Whatsapp. Couldn’t be FaceBook because it’s not allowed in China. So inconvenient.
After a while, I decided to try and take photos to make it look as if I was the only person on the Wall. It wasn’t totally packed, like some of the pictures you see, but there were certainly enough people around to make it a bit of a challenge. It reminded me of when Scott and I went to Versailles.
We raced ahead of the crowds and got to see The Hall of Mirrors like this. No crowds – just the unobstructed view of this beautiful place. It’s one of my most cherished memories.
So I began to stalk clear views of The Wall.
I’m so sad I didn’t have my phone angled just slightly higher. It would have been a perfect shot.
Look. No people. I was totally alone.
This was fun. The air was still so I could hear when people were approaching. Otherwise, all I could hear was the occasional bird.
I decided to show you that there really were other people around.
Will this Great Wall never end?
As I was walking, I looked down on what I thought was a market. Little did I know that this was the place where the chairlifts came in. I’d made it!
None the wiser, I pressed on.
I saw this cute little Cavalier-looking dog asleep in a guardhouse. That was nice.
I kept going.
You’d think the lines would be a hint, but they didn’t seem to be attached to a chairlift. I kept walking.
It was when I got to this place that I began to get suspicious. I knew I hadn’t seen this building before.
I retraced my steps and found where I was meant to be. I celebrated with an ice cream cone and sat, enjoying the view and waiting for the others to come and find me.
Here are some of the smartest dogs in China. I sat and watched these French tourists feed them whole plates of food. This must happen every day because they look fat and happy.
The dogs, I mean. Not the tourists.
Once the others got back we went and looked at how we were going to get back down from the Wall.
That’s right – a toboggan. How awesome is that?!?
I was excited.
This is all it is. You just lean forward to slow down and lean back to speed up. Or maybe it was the other way around. I can’t remember now.
The trick is to delay your departure as long as you can, because if you get stuck behind someone scared and slow it’d ruin the whole experience. But we had a dream run down.
Helen and Rick bought this shot. It was such fun!!
Later that night we went to a restaurant that Matt had heard about and wanted to try. It was popular – we had to wait nearly 2 hours before we could get a table.
But get one we did. And the meal was delicious.
We had only one more day in Beijing before our holiday would be over.