Great Wall Day (Bucket List World Wonder – Tick)
When I was younger and a lot dumber I went to Shanghai for work. It was even more fortunate for me that the company had arranged a tour of the Great Wall. I declined at the time because it was a bit expensive, so I hung out in Shanghai and got on the cans. Probably spent the same amount of money in Shanghai on the drink as the tour would have cost me. Anyway it is 15 years later and we are now in Beijing as a family and I was the most fired up about this trip. The day started early 0700 pickup from the hotel and to our surprise it had snowed last night.
This is the first time my kids have seen snow for real. Awesome. The ride to the Great Wall is approx. 2 hours from Beijing and we got to sit up the front of the tour mini bus and witness first hand some downtown driving skills. Sort of what you see on those Russian in car camera videos just at less speed. There doesn’t seem to be any line markings and people certainly do not stick to any particular lane you just get in and go for it. We did a pretty good manoeuvre up the service lane which would have jumped us up the queue at least 3 cars. (Really don’t know if it was worth it) but rubbing is racing in downtown Beijing. Our guide give us a rundown of the days events and a history lesson on the Great Wall. It is approx. 6700 KM long I couldn’t believe it truly amazing for when it was built.
Then I realized I have 2 x pet peeves.
The bus driver coasts along in no gear, by that I mean if he is coming to a stop he puts the clutch in gear into neutral clutch out and lets the bus coast. There was a couple times we were in no gear and needed to be to avoid other traffic. Lucky the other drivers have brakes. And then the person who knows everything about everything was on the tour, every trip has one and this guy’s english was OK he had a sort of Russian / Polish accent and also spoke Chinese and the way he spoke was very direct. Lucky for us he was up the back we were up the front and didn’t have to talk to him. We got to the base and had to transfer bus I suspect it is in the national park not sure and then got to the ticketing. Entry was part of our tour there is a cable car option but we didn’t know about, we need to save our money so we walked. Lucky for us I think as it was truly awesome you got to appreciate how tough it would have been to build this wall. The walk up was roughly 30 minutes we could have done it quicker but took our time and plenty of photos. It was cold but once you started up that hill the layers of clothing were coming off. The last stair climb up was a ripper really tested all of us. Once on the wall, this is the moment when you go, it was worth the climb and to walk along and read some of the build dates and history behind the watch towers, it is truly amazing. We went from clock tower 10 over to 15 and then back down and the further up the hill the better it got. The finer details like water run off and fire pits, it was very clever for the 1400’s, Clock tower 14 was the biggest and I think we got the best photos from here.
Really big bucket list tick from me. We walked down and joined the rest of the tour group for lunch. Nice lunch and plenty of food for all of us. The drive home was slightly longer than 2 hours due to the traffic but still OK. Got back approx. 1630. Pretty amazing day and I am now going to look over the photos.