Day 159 - Hiking the Great Big Long Beautiful Wall
Trip Start Jan 10, 2011
221Trip End Jan 08, 2012
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This area was fully set up for tourists but was not crowded at all. While our guide blathered on about our options and what we were having for lunch when we got back, we jumped into the Gondola and were on the wall 20min later. Built over a period 9 centuries (from the 5th to 16th), originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire agains nomadic groups, the Great Wall is truly magnificent.
The section we were on provided a perfect contrast between a restored section and a historic section with minimal restoration. It was this later section we hiked for about 2hrs out and back, covering approximately 12 km consistently going up much more than down over undulating crests of the hills. The wall is said to be approximately 8,852 kms long...at least we had a little taste!
Knowing that each brick was brought up manually and that an empire had been on guard here for over 800 years was thrilling to experience in person (goose bumps developed on Mia’s arms). There were of course people selling water, beer etc along the way and we did business with those who’s approach was more passive. These hawkers were eager for even the empty plastic bottle or can to sell for recycling.
The downhill on the hike back allowed us to take an easier pace, which was nice in the sweltering midday sun. The heat contributed to the fog which wasn’t ideal for pictures but we snapped away anyway, thrilled to be ON THE GREAT WALL! We celebrated father's day by toasting to our 3 dads with a cold beer.
After a mediocre tourist lunch buffet we bought some water for the ride home after negotiating down the extortional prices originally offered and rejected. The bus was the same as the morning and was so cramped that it did not provide enough room for our knees to extend straight in our seats. After 3hrs back on the bus we were ready to stretch and get to our hotel. The guide tried to coerce (all of) us to get out and walk or take the subway because of 'traffic’. We and few other others opted to stay on and we got back in similar time without the aggravation of the subway at rush hour not to mention paying the fair. A small annoyance given we’d been sold a pick up AND drop off package.
Our favourite dishes for dinner plus a few beers and ice cream for dessert capped off an epic day.