Monday, December 31, 2007

Our original Great Wall plan was to go to the 3 hour distant Simatai section. In the end we opted for the closest and more touristy Badaling section, given that it's not high season. I wanted to find the #1 or #5 tourist bus which leaves from the very street our hotel is on, but I couldn't find it and we ended up on a tour bus. The price was more or less the same, and the kids went free. So no damage done.

The organisation and cleanliness of the first day gave way finally to the kind of chaotic mess that I was expecting. We were bumped from bus to bus, each one messier than the last before we finally got underway. The windows of the bus, like those of the hotel, werre cakes in dried, fine dust, and indication I suppose of how things can be here when the sky isn't as blue as it continues to be for us right now.

Most of the other tour passengers were Chinese, and our relative rareness as Westerners continues to surprise me. It took 1.5 hours or travel time to get to the Badaling section, and then out we got and started marching. We ignored the cable car option and walked to the main entrance. It was busy enough but not crazy, there were vendors aplenty but not as many as Tiananmen square, and everywhere were signs of present-day China. But the wall was magnificent.

The steepness of certain sections bordered on sheer drop but that didn't stop Sara. She hit the trail like a bargain hunter in a sale and we struggled to keep up with her. If she had her way we were going all the way to the Yellow Sea. She slept all the way there, and all the way back, but she gave the wall, and the overpriced hot chocolcate afterwards, her undivided attention.
(you can check out all our photos uploaded so far here)

It's already 2008 here in Beijing, and the jetlag has another day to run, I think, so I'm wishing you a Xinnian kuaile (Happy New Year) from a pre-dawn hotel room in Beijing.

Thanks for the comments on the previous entry. The Great Firewall of China lets me post to my blog, but not to read it (and so, not to reply directly to comments). Tomorrow we'll be staying nearby, going to the Temple of Heaven (that's right Mam - I'm going to to a church, and it's not even Sunday) and wandering slowly North to Qienmen to browse the older alleyways (hutong) of the city. We got a small taste of them yesterday when we needed a pharmacy, and I think it's going to be an interesting experience. We might even take in a show - more tomorrow.


Gianluigi said...

Hi V.S.! You looks so fantastic, and your travel organisation is perfect! Just a little problem: your shots are too expose, check your camera, please!
Happy New Year, V.S.!
Diavolo di un irlandese :)

Meg said...


Love your blog, here's the site I use to get around the Great Firewall and see my own blogspot