Ready to go at 6:20am. There’s another couple from the hostel going too. We walk to the main street to get on a small bus. The driver takes us to other nearby accommodations to pick up more people and finally drops us off to get onto a larger bus to the Great Wall.
Riding through Beijing so early does not mean it’s a sleepy city. In fact kids were already on their way to school at 6:30am. Some were even already there. That’s rough. At the playground a bunch of men were exercising and playing ping pong. The dive that I ate at was full of customers.
On the bus we were handed our ration of fruit bread and water. This is breakfast.
Before the trip, I read about different sections of the wall. Jinshanling was described as being wild, low key and hard to get to. I expected an entrance similar to a state park. Small booth to collect entrance fees, toliets amd of course someone will always be around selling drinks.
This is all a bunch of BS. There’s a large parking lot, huge welcome area and even a cable car up to the wall. Quite depressing after all the build up. As the bus parks a bunch of women gleefully greet us, walk with us to build up to a buying relationship. They have tee shirts and the like. We’ll see them again. In every tower on the wall, there is someone selling a wide selection of drinks and trinkets.
The group leader tells us that it will take an hour to hike up hill to the wall or we can take the cable car. Since we didn’t have a lot of time, I take the cable car. Half the group walks up and unless they ran up hill they arrived not much later than the cable car. Ugh.
I reach the top, the wall is epic. It stretches out before me with no end in site. It amazes me that people built this so many years ago. The wall here is wild and just maintained not to fall apart. It’s in a more natural state than the photos you see of polished Badaling. Speaking of maintenance, I saw a man pulling weeds from the wall. He has quite a view at the office.
The Wall takes the shape of the mountain it’s on– up and down it winds around. My trail running sneaks grip to nothing and I almost fall on the smooth stone. Later I’l pass a woman in high heels. A few spots the stairs are so steep that it feels like you’re climbing a ladder instead. One section of stairs I was climbing, the vender cheered me on to keep going. Almost there!
It would have been great to bring lunch and eat on the wall. I want to try another section on my own, maybe later in the day for better lighting. I continue on and see a highway below not too far away. About halfway I meet a couple from my bus and we walk the last part together.
Here’s the trail leading back down. I meet with my group and we get on the bus to have lunch at family farmstead home. “Farmstead home” is a loose term. Perhaps they farm but clearly they invested in their more profitable business of feeding tourists. The home was built up to be a small restaurant. I saw bedrooms off to the side. The meal was good but I didn’t think of pictures anymore as I stuff my face.