Walking the wall

Trip Start Nov 06, 2009
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Trip End May 28, 2011


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Where I stayed
Natasha and Morag's place

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Monday, December 7, 2009

5.45am start as we needed to be at the Leo Hostel in Quianmen at 7.30 to join the tour to the 'secret wall'.

A secret wall tour means that rather than going to one of the four main tourist sites outside Beijing, some hostels organise for small groups to 'undiscovered' and much lesser known parts of the wall - much harder to get to as you have to travel out of the city for 3 hours then hike up to the wall for a few hours and back down the other side again afterwards, rather than rock up in a coach park and get in a cable car.

We went to a place called Shen Shui Hu in a group of 8, plus our tour 'guide', 'Mr T' - a real character. He was from the local village and must have been about 70 but very spritely. He spoke no English and when I asked him his name he responded by jumping up, grabbing Chris by the arm, directing him to a big rock and miming how to pee.

The trek should have taken about 3 hours but took quite a bit longer as our group became split as 3 of the group were hugely unfit and started complaining about lack of oxygen etc about 20 minutes into the climb. The other 5 of us - Tyler from the US, Sandra and John from Switzerland, and us, bonded rather well as spent a lot of time waiting for the others to catch up. It was a bit annoying as you cool down very quickly up there when you stop moving, but at least gave us more time to really take in the spectacular views which were well well worth the climb.

The part we trekked was a completely unrestored part of the wall with several watch towers, so we were fortunate enough to see it in its most natural form, peacefully, with no other tourists, no tickets or cable cars, and no sellers chasing after us. As we drove to the spot where we started the trek we saw a couple of the major sites from the motorway, already crawling with tourists, so it was fantastic to arrive at 'our' bit and see no one apart from ourselves for as far as our eyes could see across miles and miles of wall.

At the highest point on top of a watch tower we could look over Beijing in one direction and Mongolia in the other, just miles and miles of wall twisting through the hills.

After the hike we stopped with a family in the village for a beer and lovely lunch (mainly tofu-based as meat is a bit pricey and hard to come by in the village) before climbing back in the van to Beijing.

We fell asleep for most of the way back after all that bracing fresh air - at least relatively fresh compared with Beijing, one of the smoggiest cities in the world. So as we had a bit of a second wind when we woke up back in the city decided to head over to Nanluogo Xiang which Natasha had recommended.

It's a pretty area full of little hutongs with trendy shops and cafes, where the cool kids hang out - bit like Hoxton but without the Nathan Barleys. We went to a couple of bars and were very tempted so stay there for hours but keep having to remind ourselves that we are unemployed and on a strict budget now - so headed back to the flat and had a cup of tea before crashing out instead. So rock 'n' roll.
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Comments

loli on

Gua fantastic!!! pero me preocupa tus piernas como estas despues de la subida??? xxx

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