The time we went to the Wall.
Trip Start May 05, 2012
54Trip End Mar 01, 2013
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After putting mum on the plane on Thursday morning we rushed back to the main Kings office for our meeting with James to discuss our return to Kings and the AoCheng centre post-Europe. He was very accomodating and was able to say yes to all of our requirements - not that we had too many - and was very excited to have us back for the winter.
Then on Friday after our weekly badminton game we decided to head out to the great wall on Monday with a group of foreign teachers. I (Evan) was very sceptical that we could arrange this in such short notice but Lina, one of the other foreign teachers at our school was very determined and made it happen. The plan was to take a train out to Jixian which is a small town on the outskirts of the Tianjin Municipality - think of it as going from Wellington up to Woodville
On Monday morning we got to the train station at 6.30am and managed to get tickets for the only train that heads out to Jixian each day. The train ride was nice, though not nearly as quick as the ride to Beijing. It took 3 hours to get to Jixian with all the stops along the way. Once we arrived at the train station we were literally mobbed by taxi drivers trying to offer us a lift up to the great wall at "competitive prices". Seeing 8 foreigners sent the drivers into a frenzy and poor Kittie was a bit overwhelmed trying to arrange a 3 taxis with 20 different drivers all trying to shout at her to pick them!
We eventually got 3 cars sorted and were off to Kitties home to drop our bags off and find somewhere for lunch. it was now about 11ish, but since we were all up about 5, it felt like lunchtime, and we definitely wanted to eat before heading to the wall. Kittie's home was very lovely and her parents were great hosts. They took us out for lunch to a local restaurant and ordered a huge array of different traditional dishes for us to try.
After lunch we piled into two little vans and were ferried out to a police station not far from the wall
The pictures pretty much tell the story from here so I will let them do the talking. The section we visited is much less crowded/popular than the Beijing part. Also alot of it has been recently restored so it looked very cool. We climbed up a good way until we reached a dangerous looking un-restored section that seemed to be crumbling a bit much for our liking - when purchasing tickets they ask if you want to buy insurance for your hike! It was really cool to see the wall and the major difference between the two sides. Looking form North to South you can certainly appreciate why the ancient Chinese built the wall where they did. To the south you have a rolling fertile valley and to the north is nothing but ragged mountains and cliffs that would be incredibly inhospitable in the dark winter months.
After dismounting the wall we caught the last bus back to Tianjin for the day and made it home about 8ish, what a long day!
In other news we sat the HSK Chinese Proficiency test on Sunday Morning and are very happy with how it went. Results will come out while we are in Europe so we will have them waiting upon our return.
Also 2 weeks today we will be on our way to Athens! Oh my gosh it is coming up so fast!