remember that line from Mulan? where the little Chinese guard throws the torch into the basin to signal an invasion of the great wall. and then the scary huge hun guy breaks the chinese flag and burns it? and says perfect. and THEN you know things are about to get interesting.
i always liked that part.
and i feel like once you go to the great wall you know you are in China. however, getting to the great wall is part of the challenge. ok. maybe not if you speak chinese. but otherwise. things can be tricky. we got directions from our hotel. walk to the bus station. check. get on bus 635. check. wait for bus 919. um. 15 minutes later...no bus 919. heavens bless the little girl in the hotel wrote the directions in chinese and english so we could show someone. and then try and translate the hand signals again. actually some chinese speak english. mostly younger people. anyway. it turns out we have to walk another 15 minutes to get to bus 919. which were not in the directions. i suppose we were suppose to just know. we turn the corner and there is a massive bus station...across the street.
across the street shouldn't be a problem. in beijing..it is. people drive like crazies. and love honking their horns. because it helps the traffic. actually they generally honk when someone is going too slow and they have to pass the other car. honking shows the annoyance. Anyway. so we risk life and limb and cross the street. i try to stay in the middle of the pack if there is one. or at lease try and be next to a local. if they think it is ok then keep up.
so we make it to the bus station and find 919. wait in line and then someone says ..not great wall bus. i guess we looked liked tourists.
so then we find the ACTUAL great wall bus and get on that. we sit on it and realize we are starving. we haven't had anything since the plane really and it is now it is several hours later. people are eating this corn on the cob that looks like it should be grilled. it isn't. i have no idea how it was cooked. steamed maybe. but it is almost sticky. i am hungry enough to get over it and eat it anyway. cori forgoes the corn.
next an hour and a half ride to the great wall. yay!
we get out. the 'tour guide' on the bus who only spoke chinese gives us directions in chinese. and we stand there. luckily a nice younger chinese guy asks if we need help and then translated the directions. we could either pay to take a tram halfway or just walk. we decide walking seems like the best idea....
so we walk up a hill just to get to the actual wall. pay to get inside. and then there it is. one thing that is surprising is the lack of foreigners. most people are chinese visiting from another part of China.
And all of China knew I was there.
I got stopped at least 5 times on the way up by people wanting there picture taken with me. It could be because i was white, it could be because i was wearing aviators. i blame it on the captain america shirt. once. i was stopped just looking and turned to leave and someone in front of me got upset. seems they hadn't finished taking their picture yet. the other 2 people standing behind me, now caught, stepped down and stood next to me for a picture.
this guy had taken a picture of me and his girlfriend. and must have decided he wanted one too. because he jumped in my picture as cori was trying to take one of me. notice he looks about as touristy as me.
after we walked around the great wall. which is not super easy. when there are steps and not ramps, they are kinda small and probably not made for my big feet. also slightly uneven, but i guess i can overlook that since they were made you know forever ago.
the great wall is amazing. and it isn't one big wall. It is more like sections. we were at the more touristy one. but it winds up and around. and goes on forever. the picture above, we had just started out. we actually weren't even that high yet. it was really interesting to be somewhere you have read and learnt about. and then actually being on it seems surreal.
after the great wall. we make it to the bus and make it our home. we found a restaurant that had pictures and rough english translations on the menu. we ate some amazing sweet and sour chicken and dumplings. then went to our hotel to regroup and then brave the train station to get a ticket for an over night train from beijing to shanghai. to get to the train station we took the metro. which was much more convenient and less life threatening than the streets.
train ticket? no problem right? wrong. we stand in like six lines..and by six i mean 3 before someone tells us line 16 had english services. apparently we didn't notice the flashing banner that changed between english and chinese stating that. i still think it was in chinese for the most part. after we waited in line and pushed off the impatient people trying to cut us..we got our train ticket for the next day.
we made it back to our hotel and crashed. between the traveling and flights and then going straight into sightseeing we felt like we had been up for 3 days.