Japan & China, Day 9: The Day We Climbed the Great Wall

Day 9 - Friday, 9/19/14

I started my morning with another fantastic (albeit blurry) pancake breakfast. Seriously, the best food of the entire trip, LOL.
We were on the road to the Badaling section of the Great Wall by 8:30, and of course it was slow-moving with traffic.
It was a huge relief to get outside of Beijing and see mountains.
I was definitely starting to get excited as the Great Wall came into view!
The Great Wall as a whole took more time, more people, and more resources to build than any other human creation. 
As we walked over to begin the ascent of the most famous section of the Wall, we were stopped again for photos. This time, I indicated that I would like a photo as well!
Before leaving us to make the climb on our own, Sandra explained that to our right was the longer, easier way to the top and to our left was the shorter, harder way. Judy chose the easier route, and we chose the shorter. It was very steep with numerous uneven staircases and ramps. Judy said that one of her friends had warned her about how hard it is to climb the Wall, and that was no joke. Thankfully, that left many opportunities for photos as we stopped to catch our breath!
We were stopped for a few more photos by a couple of what I can only assume were Buddhist monks.

 Few vacations are complete without some random jumping shot, amiright?
A few tips for climbing the Great Wall:
1/ Check the weather first. All this uphill/downhill climbing is going to get real slick with any precipitation. And anything less than a clear day will impair your view.
2/ Bring water. You're going to want to stay hydrated for this work-out.
3/ Pace yourself. Obviously, you're going to want to stop every few feet and take in the view, so this shouldn't be a problem.
4/ Sunscreen! There isn't any shade up here, so you have the hot sun beating down on you if it's a clear day.

We stopped and bought this etching from a man working on the stairs. He carved our name and the date into it for us.
A short while later, we also bought a piece of art from a man who basically was finger painting scenery.
When people weren't outright asking us for photos, we saw more than a few people who were not so secretly taking photos of us.
We made our way back to squeeze in some shopping before it was time to leave.
We needn't have hurried - it turned out that Judy had ended up taking a tram that took her to a different part of the Wall, and she had to walk a long way back. She was about an hour late in getting back, but of course we had no idea what was going on with her until we were able to reconnect with her. Our designated meeting spot was the Badaling Hotel Coffee Shop which probably had the best shopping selection in the area. Unfortunately, this was the type of shopping where the employees constantly hover over your shoulder and won't let you shop in peace - like furniture salespeople, one of my biggest pet peeves! Seriously, there is sometimes no faster way to get me to leave your store than to follow around on my heels. And because Judy was MIA for so long, we kept wandering back in to browse some more, prolonging the torture, LOL. At one point, a saleswoman came outside to where we were waiting on the front steps to tell me that her manager was offering me a special on one of the ornaments I had looked at earlier. I sighed and just acquiesced - I guess the universe just really wanted me to buy that piece. ;-) I guess their methods are kind of effective, huh? :-P (No, seriously, I would have definitely shopped more if we had been left alone instead of constant remarks of "oh, you like the lion? have you seen this one? this is 100% jade. do you want some jewelry? we have jade jewelry here. is that your husband? how long have you been married? oh, you look so young."
With Judy finally back safe and sound, we went back to the van to head over to lunch. Which was all kinds of not good. The only things we could eat from the buffet were really some soggy, cold french fries and some greasy stir-fried vegetables with rice.
The restaurant was actually the second floor of this Jin Dian Cloissone Factory. Cloissone is a technique for decorating metalwork objects that is common in China.
Our last stop of the day was the Ming Dynasty Tombs. This is a collection of imperial mausoleums built by the Chinese Ming dynasty emperors. The Sacred Way is a Divine Road leading to heaven lined with statues of guardian animals and officials. The Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty comprise one of the best preserved and complete Sacred Ways.  

The statues were really neat, and I made a point to take a picture by every. single. one. I know...surprise, surprise.

After we were dropped off at the hotel, we walked around the garden and nearby mall. We had asked Sandra if there was anywhere nearby for shopping, and she had answered matter-of-factly that there was a shopping center nearby. Funny thing is that we had literally walked around the whole block and were completely clueless that there was an entire mall inside the building we had passed. We went inside, and were like huh, who woulda thunk it? The main floor seemed to mostly be a large area of shoes and make-up, so we didn't spend too much time at this mall. We stopped at a bread store a few doors down, and Francisco made a few selections. We also stopped at the nearby McDonald's for some french fries; we walked in and the guy at the counter immediately pulled out the English menu. Racial profiling much? ;-)
We just kind of had a chill evening, knowing the next day would bring lots of hectic airport time. We caught up on World News with CNN - Scotland's vote for independence and Alibaba's stock IPO were the top stories. At least China had some English TV - that was not a luxury we had in Japan. ;-)


Popular Posts