Went to see the great wall today, which was more spectacular than I expected. Was going to do a tour through my hostel but they needed a minimum of 4 people and there was only 3 of us that wanted to do it. Fortunately an American girl had been on another tour called the ‘Wild Wall’. Basically the hostels offer 3 tour trips – Badaling, Mutianyu, and Simatai – all of which are apparently a bit touristy with cable cars taking you to the top. Didn’t really fancy that so when I heard of this Wild Wall tour I thought it sounded the best – plus it was the only option if I wanted to do it today. Myself and an American couple booked the tour for this morning.
We met Ting (the guy who ran the tour) at 7:30am by getting into a taxi and asking the driver to phone ting to let us know where he should take us – we couldn’t tell our hostel as they would not be happy we were doing another tour. So we met Ting somewhere in Beijing – he then put us in a minibus with a driver who spoke hardly any English. Slightly concerning! The drive to the wall took about 3 hours and on the way we saw lots of road accidents! They really don’t pay much attention when they drive here! Anyway we arrived at the wall safely!
When we arrived the first thing we saw was a sign saying the wall was closed for reconstruction – something our driver ignored. We then hiked up a steep path to the wall. We they had to climb on the wall using some branches that had been stacked to make a step up (health and safety is not paramount here!). But it was worth it. The wall was immense – the photos don’t do it justice you really have to come and see it. It goes on as far as the eye can see!
Heres me on the wall:
It was an amazing sight – I think I was lucky to get to this area of the wall, it was deserted – no one was around (I guess cos we weren’t supposed to be here). From what I have heard the traditional tourist tours can be a bit unappealing when you get there. This wasn’t the case here. We walked a good 3-4km along the wall so got a really good feel for it – I had to do it in the same clothes I got off the plane in pretty much – bought a new t-shirt and socks – my white pumas are now brown!
Yesterday I went to the summer palace, which is where the Emperor went to relax away from the city centre – kinda like our Queen has Sandringham and Windsor! I was fortunate enough to meet a nice Chinese girl who gave me a guided tour and was able to advise on the bus route to get there (its not easy if you cant speak Chinese). The summer palace offered excellent views of Beijing – apparently the anglo-french forces burned it down in 1860 for some reason – very busy with Chinese tourists though as it was the weekend.
My bag arrived today!!!!! Well chuffed – means I can upload some photos, click here to see them.Was starting to get worried it wasn’t going to come – explaining to a Chinese person you want to buy boxer shorts when they cant speak English is tough! Having a 630ml Tsingtao beer to celebrate – it cost me 3 yen, which is 20p – cheaper then the same amount of water which is 5 yen! Crazy! The food is also cheap but good approx 50p to 1 pound for a decent meal, its not like the food we have in Chinese restaurants at home though that’s deffo for the Western market – hopefully will have some Beijing duck tomorrow.
You can feel the communist vibe here, they are very careful to control what the people see of the world outside China, there’s hardly any news on TV, and they block internet news websites such as the BBC and CNN. The people are very friendly though, although they do have a bad habit of spitting – even in restaurants which can be very off putting when your trying to eat!
Very cold today, down to 3 degrees – have 2 t-shirts on and a fleece and can still feel it! Glad you told me to take the long sleeve t-shirt Mum! Looking forward to getting the shorts out in Hong Kong on Wednesday!
Meeting Tom tomorrow, which will be nice – I haven’t seen any other English people since I’ve been here. Lots of Americans, Swedes, and Aussies though. Hopefully it will be warmer – at least I have my clothes now though!