Extending my stay in Beijing.
In my yesterday post I didn’t say it but I’ve decided to change my plan. Originally I should have stayed in Beijing only three days, definitely not enough. I became fully aware of it during my second day and so I’ve agreed with my hotel to keep the room for at least one night. Right after I went to book an excursion to the Great Wall. I was very lucky because the travel agency, part of the Beijing Downtown Backpackers Hostel, is just a short walk from my hotel. Usually I don’t like the group tours but this time, after some check on internet I’ve understood that it could be a good idea in order to avoid most accessible and therefore busy areas of Great Wall. According to hostel’s internet site, there will be one or two groups including ours. They also guarantee no visit to local shops are part of the program and this is good. But most important information listed in their page is that “very likely” we will see wild lives such as snails, butterflies, lizards, millipedes. So amazing… 🙂 I didn’t know I was going to attend a safari! 😀
The Great Wall.
Before telling you about the excursion, let’s start debunking a myth. Great Wall of China is not visible from the space. This is an old hoax. Has anyone of you ever seen a photo from the space with the wall? No? Me neither. Nevertheless this is really one of the greatest human artifact ever made and as well one of the biggest. From Dandong (east) to Lop Lake (west) the defensive line measures 8.850 km. of which 6.259 made of actual walls. The Great Wall was built starting from 7th century BC in order to protect China from the invasion of the nomadic people of the Eurasian steppe. By the way, as far as I’ve saw, Mongolians are still very proud of being the reason for “the wall”. What we can see nowadays has been mainly built during Ming dynasty (between XIV and XVII century). On many sections the remains are still in good conditions so it is possible to hike from one tower to the other one. This is what hopefully I’m going to do today.
Reaching the site.
The section of the Great Wall we are going to visit is quite far from the town that’s why the appointment is scheduled for 7:30 AM in front of the hostel and bus should leave at 8:00. Unfortunately not all passengers were aware of the fact that there’s no food available on site and so we have to wait while they’re buying something to avoid starving during the hike. Getting out of the centre is quite easy and fast, however we don’t really leave the town for many kilometres yet. Beijing is huge. I heard from our guide whose name is Bubble (!) that our destination is still in the administrative area of the capital but I didn’t expect to keep seeing buildings for so long. After almost one hour the landscape starts to change. I see green hills but still spotted by modern infrastructure such as big bridges. During the route we stop in a rest area with a lot of small restaurants serving street food. I regret having bought my lunch yesterday at the supermarket. What I see and smell looks much more appetising than the french cheese bread I have in my backpack. There are also shops with tons of souvenirs, mainly Panda plushes. After the break there is still one more hour of trip but finally we reach the village of Jiankou where our walk on the Chinese walls will start and meanwhile I’m humming Philip Bailey’s “Walking on the Chinese Walls” imagining Phil Collins following on drums. This post continues to next page