We traveled all this way to see a Wall
Trip Start Mar 08, 2011
84Trip End Jun 11, 2011
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From Beijing, there are 3 popular sections of the GWC that tourists visit. The closest is very touristy, so our group ventured to the second closest, Mutianyu (1.5 hours from Beijing). Mutianyu consists of 22 towers and is 2.25 km long.
I have now been to 5 of the New 7 Wonders of the World and would place the GWC in the #2 spot. Very impressive that this wall extends over 8000km (1.5 times the length of the U.S.). We enjoyed a brief gondola ride to the wall (similar to a ski lift without any snow). Once at Tower 6, Robert gives us some history and tells us that the best views are from Tower 1. This was the closer end of the wall, so off we went to hike up and up. I am not in the best shape of my life (that passed me by at the age of 13), so it was difficult to make it to Tower 1, but once I did it was well worth it.
Back at tower 6, it was time to ride the toboggan down. This is best described as roller luging. You sit in a sled with a stick in front of you between your legs. Pull back to break, forward to accelerate. You can only go as fast as the person in front of you, so we put our Herbie (the slowest person if you ever read the book "The Goal") in the back. That Herbie just happened to be Amy (as she was questioning the safety since she first heard about it in the morning). I was up front since I didn't plan on using the brake the whole way down the mountain. What started out as a fun ride quickly turned boring as there was a lady 4 people in front of me riding the brake the whole time. I decided to wait a few minutes in order to give her time to get down the mountain. This caused quite a bottleneck behind me in which Amy was almost rear ended by the guy (a local trying to show off) behind her.
We all got back on the bus, found out Kimberly made the hike up to the wall, walked to Tower 7 or maybe 8, then back down. She was back at the bus after a 1.5 hours, but did manage to buy a "I climbed the Great Wall of China" tshirt (the gift shop took mastercard since Kimberly's bank account reads zero). Everyone was exhausted so the 1.5 hour trip back to Beijing was a quiet one.
Once back we stopped at a 5 level market selling all kinds of clothes, electronics, jewelry, etc. The top floor is a food court, so we grabbed lunch before doing some shopping. After lunch, I went to the 4th floor (electronics). I walked around trying to find an external dvd drive for the computer in order to watch the dvd's we bought in Shanghai. Lots of portable dvd players, but no drives. Finally when I was ready to give up, I found a place selling what I was looking for. Lots of negotiating back and forth. The conversation went something like this:
Me: I am looking for a external dvd drive for the computer.
Seller: Like this?
Me: Yes!!! How much?
Seller: 900 yuan
Me: LOL, seriously, how much?
Seller: This is real, not copy dvd player.
Me: Do you have a copy dvd player?
Seller: No, how about 850
Me: How about 100
Seller: What is your max?
Seller: How about 800
Me: (Pretend to walk away)
Seller: Fine my lowest price, cause I like you 500
Me: (Walking away for real)
Me: (Going down the escalator to the 3rd floor)
Me: (Coming back up the escalator) Fine, 200.
I am now the proud owner of a DVD drive for $30 USD (goes for $50 on ebay, so guess I got a deal).
Next we went to another market, the Pearl Market. Once again, a huge building selling everything you could imagine. The following story is completely fictional, in no way is it real as we would never want to do anything illegal. We find out that we are in the area where you can get some replica handbags. The factories receive more material than are used to manufacture handbags, so they use the extra material to make more to sell on the black market.
We tried to look for a taxi back to the hotel, but once again it is an ordeal to get a cab in Beijing, so we took the subway 3 stops and walked the 15 mins to our hotel. Short on time we quickly showered up from the hike for our final group dinner. All 11 of us (Kimberly didn't have any money left) went to a peking duck dinner.