Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Copied from Wednesday, December 1, 2010 Travel Blog


Great Wall - 3rd day in China

3rd full day in China – Monday – went to the Great Wall!
Wow!  As I am writing this it is 2 days after we went to the Wall and my calves are horribly sore!  We climbed and climbed and climbed and then climbed some more!
Brad and Jieying hired a driver with a van to take us to the wall in the morning.  It took us about 1 ½ hours to get there.  The scenery wasn’t that great on the way so the kids all fell asleep.
A lot of times here in China when you have to pay an entrance fee you will be charged by your height.  Carissa is only 12 but she is as tall as I am.  Kevin tried telling the sales agent at the Great Wall ticket booth that Carissa was a child of 12 but she wouldn’t believe us – no proof :) so we paid for a full ticket for her.  That’s okay – we still love her!
All the vendors as we head up to the Great Wall.  

We thought we should use the bathroom before going up on the wall so we ventured into them.  Now, up until this time we have been able to use western toilets – and they had one here… but there wasn’t a toilet seat on it… and they had squatters.  Carissa and I did our best with the  wanna-be western toilet, but Laurel, well, she just couldn’t do it and came out saying she would wait!  We asked her if she was sure and she said yes, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to go once we were on the wall.  I was a little skeptical...  but off we went up the wall.
Oh – Brad and Jieying decided not to go up the wall.  They stayed behind to relax and have coffee so it was just Kevin, me, Carissa, Tyler and Laurel climbing.  I don't think they expected us to be on the wall for long and they had already "been there and done that".
Here we are at the entrance - pass all the vendors!
The place we went up was next to the toboggan ride or luge(?) not sure if that is the right spelling.  To enter, you go through a gate at the bottom and as you walk up you pass a cave with lights in it.  We didn’t know how long the cave was so we said we would go through it when we came back down and kept going up the steps to get on the wall.
There are a lot of steps.  A lot.  We finally made it to the wall – it was great!  It was so hard to believe though that we were finally there and standing on it – I have pictures to prove it!  As we walked we took a lot of pictures!  Every now and then we would meet others along the wall – some were from Georgia and others were from Michigan!
That's Carissa taking a picture with her camera - I thought her stance was hilarious.
Occasionally there is someone sitting/standing on the wall who will be selling some souvenirs and/or snacks.  At one point we all split a Snickers Bar!  I think it must have kept us going b/c at one point we were almost going to turn around to head back when we passed one more tower and looked beyond it to the other side – the view was amazing with another huge stretch of the wall going into the distance.  Off to the left of the wall were Chinese characters.  We were told they said “Chairman Mao resting place”.  Well, we were all ready to head back, happy with the pictures we took, when Kevin gets really excited and says that he wants to go “up there”.  I said, “Where!?!”  He says, “Up there” and points.  He wants us to go up by the letters.  This is a really, really (REALLY!) long way away and we had already come a really, really long way and our legs were really tired, but… we paid a lot to get here, won’t be coming back soon, and we wanted to get our money’s worth so we put one dragging foot in front of another and kept walking and climbing.  (There was a bribe of Coldstone Creamery ice cream - Yes!  They have it in China! - for all of us if we made it and a DS game for Tyler thrown in to help encourage us to venture further…) 
I thought these steps were really cool!
Someone in our family (Tyler – not Laurel!) had to use the bathroom as we were walking.  There are different access points on the wall so he walked down one of these and used the great outdoors for his bathroom.  I snapped a picture of the corner where he had been standing and thought I only got a pic of his sleeve but when we looked at the pictures we got a cute picture of him looking back at us.  I’ll show it to his wife some day :)
We passed someone who spoke English along the way and they said that you could only go so much further before you get to a sign that said, “Do not enter”.  They said it was the old part of the wall beyond the sign.  Well, we had to see this – so we kept going a bit longer and it was the hardest trek of all with very steep steps, over 450 of them, that we had to climb.  At the top of those steps were more steps that were even steeper.  To give you an idea of how steep, when we came back down them we had to sit down!  Our legs were like jelly and were shaking from all the walking and climbing, but we made it to the point where it said we couldn’t go any further. 
There were 3 people selling at the top.  I bought (and paid too much for) a picture that is kind-of 3-D like and Kevin got some medals for the kids that said, “I climbed the Great Wall”.  I paid 30 rmb for the picture – later on we learned that we only needed to pay 15 rmb each…  it’s a learning experience :)  I’m glad I got it at the top of where we climbed – good keepsake memory.  (Later on in the trip, a sales lady sold one to Laurel for 10 RMB!)
Just resting...
We hiked back (very, very slowly) across the wall to where we could get back off it and go down to meet Brad and Jieying.  At one point we could either go right or we could go straight.  Tyler said we had to go right in order to go to the cave.  I said it was straight so we went straight – which was down a ton more steps.  Well, as we were walking we realized that Tyler was right and it was the other path we needed to take in order to get to the cave.  We hesitated – a lot – about going back up again (I was sooo sore!) but we did it for Tyler (and I think all of us wanted to see the cave as well). 
Up we hiked, over we hiked, and then down we hiked.  Hmm… the buildings we walked through going up the hill were closed and we couldn’t go through them… can't go over them.  Can't go under them.  So, around the buildings we hiked, walking through a small ditch filled with a lot of leaves and some trash – it was yucky but adventurous!  We finally made it to the cave only to see that the lights were out (yes, there were cool lights on in the cave).  It was closed, and after all that work we didn’t get to see it.  Tyler was a trooper though and we continued on through the gate that let us out (the gate-keeping lady was getting ready to lock it on us!)
Brad and Jieying were happy to see us.  Brad said jokingly that he thought we broke the record for the number of hours on the wall – we were on it for at least 4 hours. My legs felt like we had been on it all day...
On the way back to the hotel we drove by the Bird’s Nest – I'm thinking the Olympics took place there?  It was actually pretty cool looking.
We went out to eat and then headed back to the hotel for some well-deserved shut eye.  We were exhausted and Kevin and I were walking funny from sore leg muscles!
The driver of the van loaned us a walking stick, but every now and then it would collapse while Carissa was using it.  She is being silly in the picture.
Still way behind in my posts, and I am going to keep trying to catch up.  Tomorrow is actually the day that we fly from Beijing to Guiyang to get Lyric in the afternoon.  Really looking forward to this special day.
Also, on the 4th day in China we spent the morning in our room and then met with Jieying to go shopping in the afternoon.  I'll write about that later - along with the subway smash!  (Not a real smash, just how crammed it is).  The 5th day, today, we ventured out on our own in the subway to go to the Summer Palace.  Then Jieying met us at our hotel and we took the subway to where Brad works to see him and then went for dinner.  Off to get ready for tomorrow!
Look close at the upper left-hand corner and the Chinese letters for Mao are there.  We went about 1/2 up to the letters and then had to stop b/c they didn't want anyone to go further!
This is right before we go up the really, really steep steps.

Here is another shot of the really, really steep steps.
Laurel and Tyler got a boost of energy (must of been the bite of the Snickers bar) and started to run up the really, really steep steps.  He he.  They soon tuckered out though as you can see Laurel in the pic below.
Actually, I think the two of them would have kept going.  We made them stop to wait for us though!
Laurel and Ty are way up there. Carissa and Kevin are hugging the wall, helping each other along.  I'm coming up behind them - taking my sweet time with the pictures (have to stop - often! - to get just the right shot!)
Almost there!  These are the steps we had to sit down on in order to go back down them.
Beyond here is part of the original Wall - it hasn't been refinished yet.  It's as far as this family got!
On our way back down the really, really steep steps - Ty is holding the 3D Pic I just bought.


1 comment:

  1. I was really shocked by how fast it got steep, and how uneven the depth and height of the steps were. I didn't consider myself too badly out of shape, but it was tough!