Qin Haung Dao-The Starting Point of the Great Wall
Trip Start Apr 06, 2007
110Trip End Jul 23, 2007
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Last night we decided to attempt (again) to purchase the train tickets for this morning to Qin Haung Dao on the coast. The line was much shorter (thank God), and so once I made it to the front, I tried in my best Chinese to say Qin Haung Dao and wrote it down on paper with the time and date we wanted to leave. It took a couple of different ticket counters before we finally were able to buy the tickets. I felt very accomplished at my Chinese communication skills by the end of it. So this morning, we woke up really early, packed up the bags, and headed across the street to the train station. We passed a so-called metal detector that was really funny. About three to five people try to fit through the detector at the same time, and half of them were still carrying luggage, bags, purses, whatever. I myself had a sprite, and Andrea had a bag of crackers and a water bottle - no worries despite any beeping sounds the guards heard
Anyways, once we got on the train, we learned that our seats were not next to each other. Ooops. The numbers were consecutive, but they were opposite each other facing different directions - both window seats. I decided to sit next to Andrea and wait for the person who had my current seat to show up to see if we could negotiate a swap. Luckily, swapping seemed to be the norm around here - someone took my seat minutes after we got there. As the train was leaving, the girl that had my seat showed up I pointed at my original seat (taken) and she spoke with them, and moved on to the next available empty seat. It was pretty hilarious. The elderly couple sitting across from us were very cute. They would argue, and the old man would storm off for a few minutes at a time. He would come back, and sit facing the aisle (away from her) and putting his back to her. Overall it was very entertaining to watch. I took several pictures along the train ride of the countryside. Once out of Beijing, we finally saw the sky, which was great. I took pics of tons of farmers with donkeys, horses, and all sorts of what I had thought were outdated methods. China is still a third world country after all, even though Beijing does not seem third world in any respect (except maybe the lines). The train stopped at a first stop which looked like a tiny little village and I started to worry because I did not see anything which resembled a coast.....I asked in my best Chinese the elderly couple in front of us if this was Qin Haung Dao....and they replied in their best Chinese..."NO"
The lady there was very nice although her English was extremely limited. In the end we bought a huge map, with only a tiny portion of it being Qin Haung Dao....and she offered the name of a hotel in the area for 150 RMB, and we accepted. Little did we know she was going to leave the Info booth to personally take us there in a little mini-van. Talk about personal service!!! When we arrived at the hotel, the lights were all off inside. It looked like it was closed..... But in fact, it was open and some girls came out of the back to help us check in at the reception. Thank God we had the information girl as a quasi-translator. I decided, since they had only charged us 5 RMB to get to the hotel, which was extremely cheap, I asked if it was possible to hire a driver for the rest of today to take us to the Great Wall - instead of hiring a taxi for each segment of the trip. Especially because the Wall seemed to be pretty far (about 25km) from the hotel location
It turns out he was taking us up into the mountains to a different Great Wall site. Andrea at this point looked a little uneasy and I kept asking her if something was wrong. She kept saying "no", but finally told me she was terrified. I understood since the roads we were driving on were not only dirt roads, but we seemed to be getting further and further away from civilization. In the end, he took us to a legitimate Great Wall tourist spot, although it was quite secluded and empty of tourists
We then attempted again to explain which portion of Wall we really wanted to see. And we did a good job - he figured it out. On the way there, we passed a herd of goats on the road...that was interesting! Some sections of the mountains seemed quite treacherous but our taxi driver did seem pretty competent. He would beep at each corner just to make sure everyone and anyone knew he was coming. When we finally go to the ocean that is when we had a difficult time understanding our Taxi driver. I understood he wanted to go or that he was leaving and so he was giving me his card (with his telephone on it) and a phone card to call him when we were done, but I did not understand because he kept pointing in different locations as if he was trying to tell us where to meet him since this was a very big complex. I thought for sure we'd never see him again since A: I don't speak Chinese so even if I did call him what would I say and how would he find me??? B: I didn't see any phones around and I didn't know how to use his phone card. In the end I gave up trying to understand him and decided I would figure out how to find him later. We bought our tickets and entered and were quite surprised when all of a sudden our taxi driver was behind us following us and then asked for our tickets
It took us about 5 min walking on the beach to get to the wall. It was amazing!!! It stretches into the ocean a few hundred feet. It is massive!!! At least 12 or 15 meters high, the tallest wall to date. It was also the widest. It was about 25 or 30 feet wide in certain areas and much wider at the base. To get a good idea of the size please check out our pictures. My back was killing me going up, then down, then up the stairs again
When we finally arose we were pretty hungry so we headed off in search of food. We found a small restaurant and of course no picture menus only Chinese so we were on our own. I ended up pointing at some food at another table that looked good and then I thought she was showing me the price of the food and what I was ordering on the menu but she was in fact asking me if I wanted anything else so of coarse I kept saying yes so we ended up with a ton of food. Including pig's feet which I thought were mushrooms originally. They tasted OK but Andrea got queasy from just looking at them. They also brought a garlic clam (or at least it kind of looked like clam) and seaweed dish. It was delicious. The last dish they brought was disgusting. I tried it but the meat had such a horribly strong taste I decided to leave it
After dinner we went to the local supermarket to pick up dessert. Andrea got some cookies and candy and I got a bag of pistachios. We decided to call it an early night since we had so much to write and also since the town is pretty small and scary at night. So now we have been writing for about 3 hours and I am exhausted. Andrea has been drinking the last bottle of wine we picked up in Australia and she is enjoying it. We both have upset stomachs from the dinner tonight but OHH well that's what you get when you have no idea what you're ordering and then still have no idea even though it is right in front of you. It was all worth it though!!! Goodnight!!!