Trip Start Mar 14, 2008
20Trip End Mar 31, 2008
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We slept for some of it (or laughed at the people who slept) and watched movies on whatever device we bought (laptop, portable DVD player, iPod, etc).
We finally reached the Jinshaling car park, and got out of the bus. We had to walk to the official starting point, so on the way we stopped at the last toilets for 4 hours.
These bathrooms were the most foreign that we have visited. There were no doors between cubicles and the separating wall was only two feet high, it was just a pit toilet - no flush and no need to imagine what the person before you had done! It was an "interesting" experience.
We finally started the walk. We had to walk to the Great Wall, so the steps up the mountain were very steep.
Just getting to the Great Wall was tiring. Then the real hike started. Some of the Wall was restored, but it was mostly the original Great Wall. This meant that it was rubble, and not much steps. It was really tricky to walk on. It's hard to explain the toughness of the walk without you actually going on it, so hopefully the pictures will help, but there were times when you were terrified.
You would climbing up these steep, steep steps (actually, they were steeper than that, so let's call it a ladder) without any wall either side of you, so if you fell, you were a goner, and there was a strong wind blowing.
It was so, so scary. Many parts of the wall were like this, so hard to walk on as it was untouched for 500 years, and the steepness was mind blowing. It was unbelievable to think that 500 years ago, this wall was built on these steep gradients with ancient technology!
I was walking up a challenging part, when an old Chinese lady grabbed my hand, and held it the whole way up. The sad part was, she was dragging me up! She stayed with us for about half an hour, helping us out, when she started "you know, I'm a local farmer, I have no job, no money...would you like a souvenir?".
Argh! We said no, and her helpful expression turned to a sour one. She walked back to pounce on some new, unsuspecting tourists.
To just think 'how on earth did they do this?' was remarkable in itself. There were some parts of the wall that were so narrow that you couldn't fit both feet when you were standing normally, and only had one side of the wall in tact, so you clung to that side with dear life. There was one stage, where you had to physically jump nearly 2 meters off a window ledge from on of the towers onto the wall.
We ate lunch on a part of the wall. Sammy made sandwiches and bought yogurt for all of us, and Shirley had biscuits and pastries. An old man sat with us, offering coke and water...for a price.
Another hawker. This man, though was 72. I have no doubt that at 72, I will be happily retired in Queensland, playing bowls on the weekend, not climbing a tough, tough part of the Great Wall.
The walk was exhausting. From Jinshalingi to Siamatai (which was where we walked) was 4.55km away from each other by "how the crow flies". It was really a 15km walk, although it felt longer than even that. The experience was utterly amazing. It was hard, but it was also one of the best things that I've ever done.
You've never visited the Great Wall until you've done this. Even Dad said it was one of the coolest things that he's ever done in his life, and I would eagerly recommend it to anyone who wants to come to China. Once we finished the walk, Shirley told us that we should think of ourselves as heroes,
which was a great feeling. We walked back down to the bus, when lo and behold, Beaconhills Valley showed up. They were planning to do the walk that we had just done tomorrow - but we doing a shorter bit today. We wished them luck, and we parted ways. We had to walk through 'hawker heaven' to get through to our bus. It was funny, to see stall after stall after seller offering the same thing. We got on the bus for the long journey back. We played movies again, and chatted. We sung songs and Shirley played English songs on her phone. She and Dad spent the next half and hour Bluetooth-ing songs to each other. She knew the Beatles, so Dad was happy.
We got back to the hotel and said good-bye to each other. We would be seeing Sammy on Thursday, but we wouldn't see Shirley again.
Our little, sore legs walked to the room and then to the swimming pool. We needed to freshen up. We swam for a small amount of time whilst a hotel guy watched us the entire time, then followed the boys into the change room and watched them again.
We got changed and went to the restaurant that we go to for breakfast. It was 'pizzamania' or so we thought. We walked in to a tiny buffet with 2 pizzas each the size of a bread and butter plate. It was pretty ordinary. The Chinese restaurants are much better. Needless to say, we didn't stay long. We were tired anyway. This had been the toughest day.
Where I stayed