Easily the number one thing we were most excited for on our trip was seeing the Great Wall. We have been to other ancient Wonders of the World and we couldn’t wait to see the iconic Wall. At our hostel there were day packages to different sections of the wall, but they gave you limited time so we wrote off taking a package. But getting to the wall on our own looked like it could be a nightmare…relying on drivers, taking several modes of transport, and possibly wasting precious exploration time.
As luck would have it, Vivianne knew a young couple who were living in Canada and had recently moved to Beijing; the plus was that of this couple, Tina grew up in Beijing and was completely fluent in mandarin. After a quick call, she worked her magic and her family networks and booked us a driver at an amazing rate to take us to the Mutianyu section of the Wall. This was fantastic; we set an early pick up time and the three of us (Shaun stayed back at the hostel) were off!
The Wall was more than amazing. The day started off quite hazy but as time wore on (and the heat intensified) it cleared up a little to allow for some great shots. We headed in one direction, away from the ‘toboggans’ we would take on our way down, and stopped constantly to snap photos, chug iced water and wipe the sweat from our brow. The Wall goes up, down, left, right, making for a challenging hike. The watch towers were a brief reprieve from the intense heat, but we wouldn’t linger on as they apparently also unfortunately served as toilets for other tourists to relieve themselves.
At one point we came to the bottom of an intensely steep long stretch that led up to a Chinese flag; we were hot, tired and sweating buckets, but decided to make that stretch our last hurrah before turning around to head back. This steep hike was incredibly tough and required a couple stops and team encouragement, but we did it! And at the top was a glorious chance to rest, drink overpriced ice water and take it all in.
We rewarded ourselves by taking the toboggan down the hill – it was a perfect day!