Day 163: Beijing, China

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May 9th 2010
Published: July 2nd 2010
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Day 163: Sunday, May 9th, 2010
Beijing, China

Per Intrepid notes, "Also while in Beijing we take an early morning trip to the Mutianyu Great Wall (approx. 2 hrs drive from Beijing). An incredible piece of engineering, it stretches 6,000 km westwards from the mountain ridges north of Beijing. It was originally constructed to protect Chinese empires from the 'barbarians' of the north and even though it failed in this purpose, it is still without a doubt one of the country's most remarkable achievements, and an iconic destination. It's a 30 minute climb up some steep steps to the wall itself but well worth the effort! There is also the option of taking a chair lift or cable car to the top and back if you are after a more leisurely experience and great views. We'll have a few hours to explore the winding wall before heading back to the city for the afternoon. Please note that the wall is quite steep in places so make sure you have some appropriate footwear for this activity.

On one of our evenings in Beijing we catch a performance of the famous Kungfu Show."

Time to see this Great Wall that everyone's been talking about!! We get to the Mutianyu section and Marcia explains that we can walk up (many many many many steps) or we can take the gondola up. My vote is 100%!g(MISSING)ondola. However, everyone else's vote is walking and once again, little sister gene kicks in and I decide to walk up as well. Afterwards, I bought a shirt that says "I climbed the Great Wall". They should add to it, "...and then I threw up." No, I didn't really throw up, but it felt like I could. I walked with Rob and Liz and it took us about 45 minutes to get to the top. I was drooling and had that lovely taste you have in the back of your throat when you haven't worked out in a million years. That part was fun. Totally worth it once we climbed the last steps that led into the actual wall and I got my first glimpse on top of the wall. Truly amazing- a place I never thought I'd be. Rob and Liz want to go one direction and I want to go the other, so we head our separate ways.

I wander on my own, yell at myself for not being in better shape, and slowly reallllly start to feel the cold/whatever that I'm fighting. Nothing like getting dizzy while on the Great Wall. At one point, I find the perfect spot and do the last P.O.N., right by a blossoming tree. Now, in order to get down, I have a couple of options. I can walk back down the million and one steps (NOT), take the gondola down or, and this is the option I went for, I can take a toboggan down!! They have a winding steel ramp that zigs zags all the way down and it looked fun!! Unfortunately, once I got in my toboggan, I turned into an old lady- I just needed to leave my blinker on as I slooowly went down the slide. The poor people behind me had to keep hitting their brakes- I just couldn't let go of mine! I survived, sorry if I ruined your ride back seat drivers, but I survived.

I get to our meeting place and find Marcia. Mash and Big A are already back at the bus, we're just missing Liz & Rob (who are getting drinks) and the three boys, Damon, Steve and Hamish. Marcia goes to find them and I stay at the meeting spot and soon I have a boyfriend. A little boy, I'm guessing about 5? I don't know children's ages, I'm guessing here. Anyway, he wanders over and sits by me and keeps smiling and looking at me in a curious way. So, I start trying to talk to him (yeah right- bunch of hand gestures) and by the time Marcia wanders back with Rob and Liz, we're playing a version of patty cakes. He wanders away, Liz and I barter down the price of a couple of tablecloths, and then, finally, 45 minutes late, the boys show up. They're grinning and you know they've done something naughty. It ends up, they hiked to the end of the wall (as far as tourists can go at least), and kept on going. They have pictures of parts of the walls that no human has been to for many years. Needless to say, they had quite a hike. The joys of being in shape. Plus, Hamish decided to celebrate the Great Wall in his own way. Earlier on, he had bought one of the Chinese "cone" hats that you see them wearing in the fields. Once on the wall, he decided to have a picture taken with the hat. Just the hat. Oh, I lie, he did have his socks and shoes on, and the hat was strategically placed so maybe there was still underwear on, you just can't tell. A hell of a way to remember his trip, I'll give him that.

We get back to Beijing, freshen up (aka "nap") and then head out to the Kung Fu show. I was excited, I was expecting a great show, much like the one in Shanghai. The first 10 minutes were pretty damn cool, then, I got bored. Sorry Kung Fu guys- you definitely have skills, but it wasn't doing it for me. After the show, we all head down the street to our last dinner together (less Big A- not even sure if he's alive at this point, really don't care either). Amavalise meets up with us (he's been in Beijing on his own for a week) and we have a great last supper (hehe, "last supper". Sorry religious folks, it made me laugh.)

After dinner, we head over to another "old town" and find a rooftop bar to sit and talk at. We give Marcia a card and our tips (Hamish was sweet enough to get her a card- score a point for the Scot!) and after a while we head back to the hotel. Most of us are leaving tomorrow and I have major packing to do. I have a few less things to pack because somewhere I lost the Terracota Warrior bag. So, I no longer have the book signed by the farmer (sorry, Sarah- that was to be your gift!) nor the post cards. I realized this while we were still in Xi'an and Marcia checked with the bus driver but he said he didn't see it. I still doubt that. Oh well. I'm taking a taxi with Hamish, Rob and Liz in the morning to the airport. The trip is almost over!!

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