Climbing the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is a monument that can be seen from space and I think every first-time visitor to China wants to go there.

Same here, so I booked a day trip with the Beijing hikers. They came highly recommended by a couple I met on the cruise and I also had heard from Babsi’s friends that they were the best.

So I had to wake up at 6:15 on my birthday and get ready to be at the pickup place at 7:30. With the description on the website it was easy to find though and right on time we started our trip. The weather was not promising a great view though.

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It was a two-hour bus ride to get to the hiking start and with a short coffee break at the second pickup we were there in no time.

The plan looked easy enough and the first couple of hundred meters were ok but then it all changed.IMG_2515 IMG_2516

Very steep steps again and when there were no steps then it was just steep. The first couple of minutes the group stayed together but then each one walked at his own pace. We had three guides with us and Tina the girl in front marked the path with little flags when there was a question about which way to turn.IMG_2517 IMG_2520

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I think some of these flags were just meant as booster for the moral that we were in the right way. Right at halftime there was a cave next to the path with nothing to see but it made for a reason to stop a while.IMG_2522

Shortly after I could finally see from afar the wall. I cannot tell how glad I was to see that the end was near, at least for ascent.

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As you can see I was a little more than exhausted when I reached the wall but very glad that I had made it. Also my newly bought backpack from Nepal proved to be a worthy investment. I was still soaked through but not as bad in the back as when we did the Annapurna trekking.IMG_2528 IMG_2529 IMG_2533

IMG_2532 IMG_2535After a long enough rest for all to arrive at the wall and catch their breath we walked along the unrestored wall. Too bad that the weather was not in our favor and the view was limited. Still, it was very impressive but something to be done again. A German guy I talked to during this part told that he comes to China every year on business and always stays a bit longer after and that every year he books a tour for the wall. Quite the recommendation!IMG_2537 IMG_2540IMG_2542

We also heard at our next rest stop that we were lucky. Because 10 days ago it had snowed and just five days ago it had rained. So we had to be grateful for warm and hazy weather.IMG_2544 IMG_2551

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The descent was the easy part for me but quite a lot found it more harrowing than going up. Maybe my Austrian ancestry made me go down nimble as a mountain goat (I wish I had been as nimble on the way up).

When we finally arrived in the village where the bus waited everyone looked ready to sit down and never get up again. But this would change quickly with a delicious 10 course meal (very traditional as the girl from Beijing confirmed). We sat down to eat on huge round tables and the different plates were put in the middle. I just had to choose what I wanted to try.

In time before the thunderstorm we were back on the bus. The ride home took an hour longer due to the weekend traffic. When I arrived at Babsi’s place she was already starving. She had waited with dinner for me to celebrate my birthday.

The rain that evening didn’t ruin my good mood, it was my birthday, I had been to the wall and I had a really nice umbrella with me.IMG_2564 IMG_2566

We went to a vegan restaurant just around from Babsi’s place. Since I was not really hungry I didn’t care so much about the food. It was actually some kind of Middle Eastern fusion cuisine. I stuck to what I knew and ate the Babaganoush. Babsi ordered chocolate cake for dessert and since I am already of advanced age we had 4 pieces so that all the candles fit!IMG_2570 IMG_2576 IMG_2578

Please note that I brought the candles from Vienna (thanks Tici!).

They even closed the light in our corner so that the candles look brighter and played ‘Happy Birthday’ on the stereo. It was a very lovely evening. Yours, Pollybert

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