I have just arrived back from a trip to the great wall of China, an accomplishment I feel slightly guilty for considering how many others have romanticised doing it, and prioritised it in their ‘life goals’, whereas it has always been, for me, just something to do if it came up. Today it came up, and for those I’ve spoken to and otherwise, if it really is a life goal then just get up and do it. It’s definitely worth the trip.
I woke up at the very early time of 6:30am (early considering most other mornings here have begun much later, I’m on holiday okay?) to a vegetarian breakfast in the hostel which included multiple unidentifiable fruits but no coffee, and was hurried into a dusty minibus to begin the drive to the wall. The trip began with the tour guide giving a just-about understandable introduction to the walk and continued on for an hour and a half of busy roads and loud Chinese drivers until we arrived.
Some warning for how difficult the wall is to walk would have been appreciated. The 1 and half mile stretch we walked wouldn’t have been too difficult if it were just the length, but of course it had to be built on a mountain range (how inconsiderate) and so we were trekking up and down steep inconsistent steps and slopes the whole way. I think I lost about two stone, and definitely worked off my victory Snickers bar. But really, the wall is amazing, I doubt there’s anything like it (probably why it’s one of the new seven wonders of the world) and I would definitely recommend taking a trip if you ever find yourself in China.
There are 20 turrets/watchtowers on the Mutianyu area of the wall, of which we walked 10 (from the middle to turret 20, where the refurbished wall ends and you get to the older, more dangerous part). The last two turrets were the most difficult, we had to walk up a steep set of steps to the top where we could see all the way back down the mountain and how far we’d just walked. At the top, after catching my breath and rewarding myself with chocolate, I managed to get hold of two more presents and a cute little panda teddy for myself, from a loud Chinese woman shouting at the top of her lungs about water, coca cola, ka fei!
We then walked back down, took some more photos on the way down, ran into a herd of stray cats and dogs being fed by fellow tourists and sat down for lunch. The food there was amazing; we were seated at a restaurant at the very bottom of the hill, and given a buffet of all kinds of Chinese food; rice, vegetables, onion-noodle things, vinegar’d lettuce, sweet and sour chicken, potatoes, in all kinds of sauces, I couldn’t tell you precisely what the dishes were but they were all delicious. I even managed to eat surprisingly well with chopsticks, it turns out when I’m faced with using them or going hungry I learn pretty quick.