Well we made it to the Great Wall yesterday and walked for a good three hours. It was quite an experience walking on the Great Wall. We got there quite early (actually, very early) and surprisingly had it almost all to ourselves for the first hour or so. It started off with a cable car ride to the top.
Now many of you might be reticent to call this a cable car and instead refer to it as a two person chairlift, and to you I say “Picky, picky”. It is, after all, The Great Wall. While there are places where it is a gradual climb or where the top of the wall – which is about 10 feet wide – is smooth, most of it is stairs and they are 4′, 8” or 12″ high. I don’t do well on stairs. Even at home I am huffing and puffing when I reach the top of our stairs. After the first set of 264 steps I decided that the best thing was to traverse back and forth, much like when one is riding a bike up a steep hill, or skiing down a steep slope. This made it much easier for me although I was constantly behind the very fit Terry! This was particularly upsetting in light of the sign which I saw as we started up the first set of steep stairs. Do you think Terry was going to help the senior? Not bloody likely! Off she went.
I’m not exactly sure how far apart the towers on the wall are – likely varying distance, but they were always just a little too far for me. At each one there was a vendor selling pop, beer, chocolate, trinkets/souvenirs, etc. I skipped the first couple but then I needed a coke and bought one from this fellow. We chatted for a few minutes and he told me that he is 59 years old and walks 5 km through the forest from Mongolia to the wall every day to sell his stuff and eke out an existence. I know some of you might not believe him – but I did – he had no reason to lie to me since I was about to leave anyway. After that I bought something from almost everyone I saw – chocolate, kleenex, or whatever else they might have. I can’t imagine being the age these people were and having to depend on the generosity of tourists for my existence.
Anyway, it seemed that as we walked, we went through different seasons. It was quite amazing, actually. It wasn’t cold, but after the storm that passed through Friday, there was even snow on part of it. These photos were taken from different places on the Wall.
All right, I guess I better fess up. These photos are actually postcards purchased from a couple of the vendors. Why not include our photos? Well take a look below. This was OUR day on the wall. Yes we walked for three hours but in the rain and fog you were lucky to see 100 feet in the distance. We did, however, have the wall pretty much to ourselves.
And we did climb all those stairs – as I write this it is 27 hours after we got off the wall and my calves will not allow me to walk DOWN an escalator at the airport. Why the title? I got up this morning at 4 to – well you know, and I had to sit right back down again on the bed because my legs weren’t ready to hold me after all the abuse on “The Great Wall”. It was so miserable that when we finished we didn’t even go on to the Summer Palace, as that is all outside as well. Instead, we came back in to Beijing, where after a couple of hot showers, we decided to WALK the 3.4 kms to the Silk Market AND the 3.4 kms back. (I say “we” but in this case “we” should be spelled Terry). That may also be contributing to my aching calves. Thank goodness it wasn’t raining – or hot and humid as was forecast. Terry will be regaling you with the rest of our Beijing time soon, so stay tuned!