We Climbed The Great Wall

Trip Start Sep 05, 2011
Trip End Nov 07, 2011

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Where I stayed
Sunrise Hostel

Flag of China  ,
Friday, October 14, 2011

The journey to Beijing was awful. The woman at the ticket office told us that the journey would take 15 hours, not too bad we thought. The journey took 26 hours! There are check points/toll roads things all over China and for some reason our bus stopped at one which was closed for 9 hours. The bus was smelly and the toilet did not flush, it just dropped out onto the road. Thankfully we are not getting any more sleeper buses in China!

Our schedule was tight in Beijing and unfortunately we lost a day due to the unexpectedly long bus journey meaning that we had a lot to cram in to 3 days. On our first day we went to see Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. It was busy but we did manage to get a few good photos. The Forbidden City is interesting but there is not too much to see. It consists of some old buildings and courtyards that have been reconstructed.

We headed to the Silk Market and Pearl Market in the afternoon which are well known for selling copies of famous designer brands. It was fun haggling with the stall holders however it can be quite overwhelming when they are pulling you over to their stalls and shouting at you constantly. We were called "crazy" and one guy said we should go to the "crazy hospital". We thought it was funny. It is definitely worth a visit if you want some good bargains.

In the evening we visited the Birds nest Stadium and the Water Cube. The area is really quiet now and feels a bit of a waste but you can get some good pictures and the structures are very impressive.

Some other travellers we met recommended visiting the Summer Palace in Beijing so we decided to give it a go. The Summer Palace is cheaper to enter than the Forbidden City and is actually much bigger. We thought it was better than the Forbidden City as there is a large lake and nice gardens to wander around.

Wednesday was one of the highlights of the trip so far. We visited the Great Wall. There are many sections of the Wall that tourists can visit, and we decided to avoid the busy areas and head to a section called 'Mutianyu' which is well known for its beautiful scenery and is not usually too crowded. We decided to try and do this one ourselves so we got up very early to go out and get the public bus. After much searching we gave up looking for this bus as it seems that it is impossible to find. We headed back to the hostel where we found that we were just in time for the days tour to Mutianyu and there were two places spare, hurray a bit of luck at last we thought!

We had to pay extra to get a cable car up the mountains to the wall, and get a toboggan back down. We thought this was worth it as we could get longer to walk on the wall, and it looked fun!

It was such a great experience to go to the Great Wall and although it was a slightly foggy day the views and scenery are stunning. Walking along the wall is very physical work, there are many uneven steps and it is a good workout. The wall is mainly reconstructed however we did walk to one part which is in its original form. Unfortunately you cannot walk on this part as it is too dangerous, it is a good opportunity to take photos of the original wall though. We both really enjoyed visiting the wall and will definitely come back to visit another part. We were a bit jealous when we found out that some other travellers had booked tours to sleep on The Great Wall, this sounds like a fantastic idea for a future trip.

When we arrived back from the wall, we decided to visit the night market. We still have not been put off by the food as here we were brave enough to try scorpion on a stick! Rachel was more keen on this than Mike, he had been put off by the animals stomach and the chicken feet! The scorpion tasted burnt and crunchy, the man even sprinkled something on it like in the HSBC advert. The market also had other dodgy delicacies we weren't brave enough to try such as: Silkworms, Starfish, Crickets & Sheep Penis. Lovely!

Beijing seems a lot quieter than the other major cities that we have been to in China; this makes it a nice city to visit. We really enjoyed our time in Beijing even though it didn't go smoothly. We would like to return in the future and spend longer here as there is a lot to see and do.
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