Great Wall Part 1
In China the characters for the wall translate to "long wall" I think it's funny that it took other languages to make it "great". Whatever you call it, it's pretty awesome!
Our tour included a visit to the Juyongguan section of the wall in a couple days. And of course we saw the Badaling section in 2008 when we came to meet Georgie but ever since I heard about the Mutianyu section I knew that was the section I wanted Georgie to experience first.
We hired a private car with an English-speaking driver for the day. Our driver Kong was a nice enough guy but "English speaking" was a stretch. I estimated we had about 50% communication... Bobby estimated quite a bit less. Anyway he picked us up on time and got us there and back so it turned out ok.
This section of the wall is about a 90 minute drive out into the country side of Beijing. It's interesting to get away from the big buildings and see farms and green hills. The Mu section is very well set up for visitors; very clean lots of parking etc but the reason to come to this section is FUN!
We bought tix for the cable way (not to be confused with the cable car) at the entrance. The walk up the hill to the cable car was brutal...probably more difficult than climbing the actual wall. We were so excited to make it to he top and get on that car. Unfortunately the ticket agent said "wrong ticket" and instructed us to walk back down "100 meters" to the ticket window. At the ticket window we were told "wrong ticket" that ours was for "cable way" not "cable car" and to go down "100 meters" to the entrance. Every, whatever seemed like "100 meters" to us--the Americans who only understand feet and yards-- we'd show some other official looking person our tix and give them a questioning look. Then we'd be told to go down yet another "100 meters".
We did finally find the "cable way" entrance right back at the very beginning of the monumental hill we had climbed just a few minutes before. If it wouldn't have been so hot we probably would have found it funny at the time. Instead we had to wait until later to laugh. The "100 meters" has become a running joke of to trip so all's well that ends well.
Anywho the cable way is basically a ski lift that takes you up the hill. It's a lovely little 5 minute ride straight up over the tree tops. I can't imagine walking up although there's a path to do so. We then spent a couple hours climbing the stairs from tower to tower we made it up to tower two which is the highest one that is visible from the bottom. Georgie was pretty proud of herself and we immediately bought her an "I climbed the Great Wall" tshirt. Kong was waiting for us after our descent and he took us for lunch at a place nearby he said was very good. Umm, no. It was three times the usual cost, loud, and with crappy food and service to boot.
We made a couple photo stops on the drive back and then had Kong drop us off at Wanfujing. Bobby and I had stayed nearby in 2008 and had fond memories of the pedestrian shopping area and snack street. Georgie loved it!! Well, she loved the shopping; snack street not so much. She got a little freaked out when she saw the bugs and stuff on sticks and wanted to go. I really wanted to try something that looked safe. Last time we were there we just looked and I've always had some regrets so I ended up just getting some dumplings. Truthfully not so good and incredibly expensive... $12 for three!!!!
By that time the kid was wearing down. The heat, the lack of sleep and the unmistakable smell of snack street could do it to anyone. So we headed back to our hotel area for some dinner. G had eyed a Szechuan spot that looked interesting to her the day before. It was an upgrade from the first place we tried (table cloths, a/c, napkins) and the food was almost as good :-)