We were up at 5.30am which always seems so doable when you plan these trips months in advance but of course the reality is (when you are dying of swine flu) it can be a challenge in a real life setting. But we did it because we were excited – today was going to be GREAT!!!
We scoffed a quick breakfast before our guide was to pick us up at 7am. Most visitors to Beijing who go to visit The Great Wall go to the Badaling section of the wall because it is the closest to the city. It is the most preserved part of the wall and the steps aren’t as steep and there are handrails etc. However with all of that ‘convenience’ comes CROWDS!!! Like cray-cray-bah-nay-nay crowds. See Exhibit A below
Since we had booked a private guide to take us, we had decided to visit the Mutianyu section of the wall which is alot further away (around 1 1/2hrs drive). It is a spectacular section of the Great Wall and you just do not see as many people there. Since I am all about feeling exclusive and wanted the wall as much to ourselves as possible, we decided to arrive nice and early and beat any potential tour buses and crowds, hence the early start.
Our guide was the lovely Vivie Pan. She’s such a sweet lady and from my first email to her she was so accommodating with working out how we wanted to plan the 2 days we booked her for. Because there is so much to see in Beijing and it’s enormous and crowded and insane, if you can stretch yourself to have a private guide and driver then I say go for it. If you have to eat 2 minute noodles and cask wine everyday for 2 weeks to save up (and relive your poor uni days) then so be it. You won’t regret having this more personalised experience I can promise you. Here is Vivie’s website and here are her Tripadvisor Reviews.
When we arrived into the carpark there was hardly anyone there and we knew it was worth the early morning effort.
To get up onto the wall you have 2 options. You can hike for an hour or so which is a really great option but since I wasn’t feeling well with my plague, we had decided to forgo that *we were never going to shitting well hike up, sick or not*. So we went with the cable car to the top. It was a bit of a hike just getting to the damn thing and with my pnuemonia of black death it was a little hard to breath. At one point my lungs were screaming and apparently they were screaming in their outside voice because husband stopped me and said listen I just don’t think we should do it. You are so sick I don’t know how you are going to go walking for hours up on the wall. I think he thought he was being nice or something but is he kidding me. This is our only opportunity to see the Great Wall. Today’s the day!!! Now if I had man flu I would of course be in the hospital on a drip demanding that a hot young male nurse be washed and brought shirtless to my room (hey that man flu doesn’t sound too bad right now). But I am A STRONG AMAZON WOMAN and I will soldier on *and whine and wheeze and cough the whole time*.
Now here’s the thing – husband doesn’t like heights, like at all so I thought he may have an issue with the cable car and the height of it all as it climbed to the top. But apparently he was fine with the cable car – it was me who was gripping on and closing one eye because I apparently don’t like being on a moving, swinging, high above the ground tin can of death. But hey, that’s just me being all dramatic apparently. Exhibit B – the hanging cable car of death
This section of the wall dates back to 1404 apparently and I loved how kind of grungy and historic it all felt. I adored that much of it wasn’t restored and super perfect. Honestly we could not have picked a better time to be here. There was hardly anyone there and it was possible to capture photos with noone else visible which is an incredible bonus. Here are some of my favourite photos….
There were a ton of stairs which of course there barstard well was because China and stairs…..grrrrrr. I managed to navigate them with a minimum of hysterical crying quiet sobbing because the scenery was just so breaktaking. #nofiltersrequired
Does this place live up to the hype – eleventy billion percent YES!!!!
Here’s our guide Miss Vivie
We probably spent about 2 hours wandering around just soaking it all in. You just couldn’t get tired of it – it was a visual delight every direction you looked – and a masterpiece of construction.
This is another one of those times when you see an Icon of the World and you wonder if it’s all it’s touted to be. Husband and I both agree that The Great Wall is one of the most amazing things we’ve ever seen and we are so so happy that we got to experience it. Congratulations – you win everything today Great Wall of China!
Now all of the euphoria of the wall was about to get sucked out of me when my “getting down off the wall” options were presented. Option A. walk back the 2 hours and then hop back on the cable-car-of-falling-to-my-death. Option B. Toboggan down. These aren’t options – these are The Universe Has Wronged Me bullshit options. So the toboggan seems like the least horrific of the two until we approach the mofo of a thing. First up you see this sign which tells you how to enjoy the toboggan ride:-
What???? Apparently you aren’t allowed to drink or do drugs before going on this. WTF….they should hand you a goon bag and a joint as you approach so you can start skulling and smoking and get ready for the black out.
Then you see the actual “toboggan of terror”. At this point I turn to the guide and imply nicely that she has clearly been putting the white stuff up her nose if she thinks I’m hopping on this thing. I mean, my badongadonk ~not to mention my ego~ ain’t fitting on that!!!!
And the whole thing is really steep. And really winding. Oh honey noooo – I’m not gonna do that.
I am again reminded by the guide that this is the quickest way down. I’m starting to really hate her – cancel all the nice things I’ve said lol.
Husband was super excited about going on it – I really hate him right now – well more than usual anyway. He gleefully jumps on the thing and zooms off leaving me to stand up the top pondering my future (without him).
Eventually I reluctantly decide to open up a can of toughen up and make this thing my bitch….hold onto your vaginas and awayyyyy we gooooo!!!
::several mins later::
Ummm yeah so….I did not make this thing my bitch. No bitches were made. I was freaking out, kept riding the brake and ruining the man behind me’s dreams of flying down the hill on his toboggan. At one point because I wouldn’t let my toboggan get up enough speed on a flatish bit – my toboggan stopped, right there, on the hill, I’m just sitting there, now what – the guy behind me had to get off his toboggan and give me a push. Did I mention I completely ruined his life and he’s now writing on his travel blog about some chubby bitch ruining his one and only chance to toboggan down from the Great Wall. #sorrymate.
This is husband’s face as he arrived down the bottom – all smarmy and calm (dontcha just wanna punch him)
And here my friends, is my face – trying to smile for the photo but the TERROR, oh the TERROR may just be peeking through a little (as are my hooters). I made it alive, whew ~there there, don’t cry Lisa~
After wiping away my tears and packing up my humiliation we hopped back into the car and headed to the Summer Palace. This is just out of Beijing and is where the Emperor and his family used to spend the summer months to escape the awful heat of the city.
The setting here is sooooo beautiful. Almost serene but the crowds were pretty intense – people everywhere you looked. There was alot to see and we really enjoyed our wander around.
I loved the intricate paintwork on this amazing walkway
On the way back to our hotel I had coughed both my lungs up thousands of times so Vivie stopped at a pharmacy so we could see if I could get something for the cough. This place was full of mysterious looking things and I’m not sure if I bought cough drops or little balls of please don’t kill me poison. If I grow an extra nipple you’ll know why.
Back to the hotel for a short nap and a lung transplant before, in truly Kelly style – going back to Siji Minfu for duck pancakes again hahaha. Dragon door bitch wasn’t there so we got a table straight away. We ordered a different chicken dish this time as well as spring onion pancakes. Both delicious additions to our belly. All up for 4 dishes and 6 coronas it came to $78. Again – so cheap!!!
I’m exhaustipated – time for sleep before another big day tomorrow.