Standing on the Great Wall

Trip Start Mar 20, 2008
Trip End Mar 31, 2008

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Another early morning, 6am even earlier than yesterday. Walked outside the hotel and woke the taxi driver up for our big day to the Great Wall at Simatai. ShuXin did the negotiating and the driver was pleased of the deal. He lived in Miyun, ShuXin's hometown and halfway to the Great Wall. He would drive us to Miyun for breakfast and he would go home, while a friend would take over the cab and drive us for the rest of the day. Total cost 550RMB, at the time only $70 to $80, incredible price.

We got onto the wonderful new expressways and amazingly were soon clear of the city. Where the expressway stopped after 80km was Miyun, so we drove in, dropped my luggage at ShuXin's Aunts and then found a restaurant for breakfast. Afterwards, we were introduced to our new driver and continued on our way. We then started to wind around the giant Miyun reservoir and into the hills to Simatai.

We left the driver and walked over to the ticket office. Then we went to the cable car to speed up our visit, we decided to get mechanical help to the top and walk back down. However I did not know that ShuXin was scared of heights and the swaying two seater chairlift did nothing to inspire confidence. Thankfully we arrived at the top without too much worry. The next method of transport was an incline railway, like the one at Katoomba. It progressed a little further up the ridgeline. Even then it was still a stiff climb up the last few hundred metres to the wall itself.

Once upon the wall, it was amazing. At this highpoint it was covered in frost and snow. Something I was not expecting but enjoyed all the same. We started out progession down the wall. Pausing briefly to admire the view, to take pictures and scratch our heads of the insanity of such an engineering project. In some parts the wall is only a foot wide and you walk beside it on the ground. At other points you are walking on top of a wide wall with countless steps below you. None of the steps are equal in size and it took constant vigilance to watch your own footing. It was incredible fun though at the same time.

Once at the bottom we walked around the hotspring fed lake back to the car park. There was a fast flying fox to roar across the lake in no time flat but ShuXin was not game to try. We then found the driver, drove back to Miyun, collected my luggage again and drove off to Beijing Airport. All up, at least 300km of driving and over 7 hours for 550RMB was pretty good as we left our driver at the brand new Terminal 3 building.

Words can not descibe the incredible size and scale of this building properly. Over 2km long with it's own internal railway and bus system. The place was awe inspiring and I was there only 3 days after it opened. I checked in and then we found an upstairs restaurant for a late lunch. It was an amazing place to people watch. You could never tell that it was newly opened and we had no hassles there. I then said my farewells to ShuXin and thanked her for all her efforts. I then had to go to my terminal gate and it was almost a rush. Half running along several travelators after I spent too long watching the automated trains run back and forth. Then I was on board my plane and headed back to Zhuhai and the south of China.
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