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Published: December 1st 2010
THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA (To keep the rabbits out)
24/8/10: We were up at 7:00am, packed our packs, dumped them into the store room and hurried to the Subway. We had to catch the subway to the main bus station so we could catch the 916 bus to take us an hour out of Beijing. When we travelled through the city I could not believe how bad the pollution was. It was the worst I have seen since Delhi. We didn’t notice the pollution when we first arrived because they had just had two days of rain that cleaned the sky’s, now with fine weather and no wind the pollution was left to build giving us only 300-400meters of visibility. We got off at the first bus stop an hour later. We were approached by a guy that wanted to take us to the Great Wall for 200yuan one way. This was a tad overpriced by 175yuan. We had the lonely planet book and knew that it should only cost 25yuan each. This price was for a full van, he only had a small car. He couldn’t understand for the life of him why we didn't want to pay that
much. We waited for half an hour until others arrived but they all wanted to go to a different part of the wall. We wanted to go to Mutianyu and the others were going to the part of the wall that was under construction. Even though everyone said that that part of the wall was closed the French group caught a bus to nowhere hopping to get a cheaper ride than 25yuan. Jacinta and I had to pay extra for the third seat costing us 70yuan on way just so we could go and stop wasting our time, it worked out better anyway. When we got to the wall it was setup like any other tourist attraction was set up, loads of souvenir shops lining the entrance and over inflated food and drink stands. We didn’t have a lot of time so we took the sky rail up to the wall, I ended up getting it a little cheaper after showing my driver’s license passing it off as a student ID card; sometime being in a country that can’t read English can pay off. I thought the wall was great, I suppose that's why they call it that? We walked
1.5km to one of the higher towers then back down again after we had lunch on the wall. We wanted to use the last remaining credit on our mobile to ring Australia home as we were leaving late in the afternoon to catch our flight to Germany. I rang home but received an answer saying that I first need to activate the card for overseas. I rang another number that transferred me to the activation department, I pushed number two for English and received a Chinese worker that could not speak one word of English; I rang five times each time pushing number two for English, five times I got a different lady on the phone that could not speak English. I lost my temper on the last call and yelled down the phone saying “why do you have an English speaking option if no one speaks a god dam word of English?” We were both upset we couldn’t speak to our parents from the Great Wall as this would have been cool.
It was quiet hot and our two hours we allowed for the wall was almost up. We were running out of money as well as time. We
questioned ourselves; do we walk back down to the carpark following a path that would take us half an hour or do we pay 50yuan each and go down on a toboggan taking only 5minutes to reach the bottom. I know what you’re thinking, why would they have a toboggan run at one of China’s most import historical attractions, the best way to answer that is because they can and if it will make money then there are millions of Chinese that will invest to make it happen. It all made sense, the used sleds were sent back up to the top on the back of the chair lifts making the problem of getting the toboggans back up the top a thing of the past. We didn’t have to think to long about our decision, we took the toboggan. We waited until the majority of others had gone far enough down the track so we could get some decent speed. Jacinta was in front and I put the pressure on her to go fast, I didn't really have too, she took off like a bat out of hell. Within 20seconds of taking off we had already caught up to the
others slow tobogganers, we were held up the whole way down, we were able to fit in short fast burst of speed after we had waited some distance. The ride was good but it could have been so much better if the two woman holding up a dozen tobogganers grew a set of balls. Our touristic part of China was over and done with, it was now time to make our way back to the hostel so we could get ready to go to the airport. We left the hostel around 9:00pm, it took us an hour of subway and three exchanges to get to the airport. By the time we were checked in it was 11:00pm. We boarded a large ETIHAD Airways aircraft, it was new with all the games, channels, movies, navigation and TV favorites at your touch screen finger tips. My favourite was the takeoff and landscape camera, this gives you a real time view from a camera mounted underneath the plane; take off was pretty cool.
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