April 28, 2009:
George and I had both hoped to visit The Great Wall of China “someday.” And now that we were really getting the chance, we were super excited! Pan came along with us, which was awesome, since she helped us take the bus, instead of paying for a much more expensive car to drive us there. Badaling is the most visited part of the wall, since it’s only an hour from Beijing, but we wanted to avoid the crowds, so we headed to Mutianyu, about 2 hours from Beijing.
There are two options for getting up to the wall from the entrance, you can take the cable car, or the stairs. We opted for the stairs leading up towards tower 6, which were very steep and tiring to climb, but we got to the top in about 20 minutes. Once up on the wall we walked up to some of the higher towers, where we stopped for lunch. Of course, we took lots of photos along the way. Up at the end of the restored portion of the wall we encountered a large group of local teenagers who had climbed up the long steep un-restored portion of the wall and stopped to eat their bagged lunch at the same place we stopped. Coming from that direction they didn’t need to pay the entrance fee, but that seemed fair for the amount of effort it took them to get there!
After lunch we headed back along the wall and past where we had started to a few more towers in the other direction. We visited 15 of the towers (George visited 17, while Pan and I took a couple breaks). [We ended up back-tracking a bit, but you could take one of the cable cars up towards tower 15, walk across the wall towards tower 6 and take the toboggan or cable car down from there.] By then it was getting late in the afternoon and we figured we better head back to be able to catch the bus back into Beijing. For the way down from the wall we opted for the toboggans! If you push the control forward you should go fast and if you pull it back you should brake. But George’s was defective, so at one point he stopped completely, and even pushing the control all the way forward he hardly moved. Pan yelled something back to me, and I thought George had gone flying off the track, but it turned out he had just stopped, blocking the track in front of us. We were able to get dinner in the nearby town, before catching the bus back into the city. It was a great day at the Great Wall! 🙂
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