The Great Wall – The Secret Spot
After having at least one of your train tickets secured, we were able to enjoy Beijing. We booked a tour to the Great Wall, but not to the touristic area, but to a remote area about 1.5 hours away from Beijing. We had experienced by then the crowds in Bejing, and we really wanted to avoid them if possible.
We got up early and departed with our non-english speaking driver. It was a small group of about 15 people. The bus played South Park episodes, featuring chinse themes. We couldn’t help it but laugh, since the over-the-top cartoons were making fun of Chinese. It was hilarious, specially the great wall episode, or “chitty wall”.
As we passed by the touristic wall area, we saw a sea of people. It would have been impossible to take pictures or enjoy the views. We would have been harassed by vendors trying to sell souvenirs and pushed by local tourists trying to get their picture taken.
Instead, we arrived at a less popular side of the wall, which we had almost to ourselves. Our tour guide, who we picked up along the way, gave us a little introduction to the wall history, and left us with instructions to come back 4 hours later.
There is a reason why they called it the GREAT WALL, It is super long…you can see it go and go, and it seems it never ends. Also, it was built really high in the mountains, to protect chinese territories from Mongolian nomads.
We were instructed to hike up to tower six. Ryan and I had recently hiked for 6 hours at the Banue Rice terraces, and had suffered for 3 days the effects on our legs. We decided to take it easy and go slow. We made it to tower 4 where we appreciated an unrestored section of the wall. It was amazing to be able to walk through the somewhat restored section and then see the unrestored part. It takes your breath away. The weather was crazy, it was really cold; all of a sudden, it rained and sleet, and then the sun came out.
As we slowly climbed up, we saw all the others passed us by. When we decided to come back, we knew the others were way too far to make it on time. We arrived at the bus on time and it was almost empty. We waited about one hour for the remainder of the group until the tour guide got a call. The others decided to keep going all the way to the other side of the mountain. Apparently, one of the people on the group, had done the hike before and the pick-up point used to be was on the other side, so he instructed everybody to keep going. He apologized later to the entire group for the misunderstanding.
We finally went to the restaurant where we had a communal lunch. They serve different plates and everybody shares, even if you don’t know people. The food was really good, but had almost no meat; a lots of vegetables.