You know how there are things that you say, “Someday I’ll do that” or “Someday I’ll go there.” The great wonders of the world, the home of someone famous-- things that are far away and on the edge of being too hard to believe that they would really actually happen to you in your life. I realized in the little grey van that weaved in and out of Beijing traffic that I was heading to the Great Wall of China and that today it wasn’t “someday” anymore it was TODAY, November 5, 2011 that I would hike the Great Wall of China. The wall that can be seen from space. The wall that was in all those travel channel films we watched in Mr. Earlings’ 9th grade Geography and World Civilization class. The movies that I was glued to the screen for the entire 80 minutes while the rest of the class spent the time hiding their cell phones up their sleeves so the teacher wouldn’t see the light of their text messages. The same Great Wall that’s on all those postcards, calendars, T-shirts, Chinese scrolls, along the edges of chopsticks. It’s strange to be in a place where when you ask people if they’ve seen the Great Wall and they answer “Of course.” It’s a “scenic spot,” as our tour guide Lee called it, a spot nearby that the locals move and live around. Kind of weird.
We started the hike on a dirt path in a tiny Chinese village. After an hour of hiking we got to the unrestored section of the Great Wall. You can only walk on these parts if you do a private tour, which is what we did. It was a lot of rocks and old towers and very pretty. Lee was impressed that I knew that they used rice mortar between the bricks when they built the wall. You would be surprised the ways rice can be used haha.
Here’s us at the beginning of the hike, not yet to the restored section
Then the unrestored section
In one of the towers, we found a group of Chinese tourists cooking noodles over a kerosene lamp. I think you can do tours where you hike the wall for a few days--sleep on it and everything. They must have been doing something like that. We also ran into three guys from Salt Lake City. Weird to meet fellow Utahns on the Great Wall.
This is the restored part
Painters on the wall
I loved this plaque at the end of the hike
After five hours of hiking on the wall we were happy that this was the way to get off the wall: Tobogganing. The signs made it clear that this is "an adventure sport" and that using an umbrella during the ride may cause injury to the passenger or fellow passengers--we're not sure which. It was also unfortunate that they have guards posted every 2 feet or so, so playing bumper cars with your roommate in front of you isn't the best decision.