27 May 2010 3:19pm bus back to Beijing
I just finished hiking the Great Wall of China! That was by far the most intense experience of my life! The day started off at 6:15am, when the bus came to pick us up. We were greeted by breakfast- McDonald's egg mcmuffin and coke. But this was no normal [American] egg mcmuffin. This was egg mcmuffin with ketchup and mayonaise! Definitely unusual.
THe bus ride was pretty boring, but I did take some pretty cool pictures out the window. China's countryside is absolutely beautiful. It took us a couple of hours to get to the wall from Beijing.
When we got to the entrance of the part of the wall we were hiking, Jinshanling, we were given the option of taking a gondola up to the wall or hiking. We opted to hike. It was bad, I thought my lungs were going to collapse. If only I knew what was coming up...
Once we got onto the wall, my breath was taken away again- this time from beauty. The wall itself is incredible, and the views were absolutely amazing. Words simply cannot describe it, which is why I took so many pictures! Although honestly, I'm not sure if pictures can accurately depict it either. From pictures that I've seen of the Great Wall, it looks imposing, but not much. Once you hike the thing, then you can truly understand how remarkable it is.
The first part of the wall was nice- not too many steep climbs, and everything was fairly intact for the most part. The second part was the complete opposite (and was the much longer part). A lot of parts were broken or loose, and many of the slopes were steep! I slid quite a few times and scraped my hand a little. The rain probably didn't help things. I feel lucky, though- apparently one woman we passed had broken her arm. I just so amazed it wasn't me.
Some of the staircases that were still intact were ridiculously tall- steps came up almost to my knees! At least the third section gave us a bit of a respite from the complete disrepair of the last one. It was still extremely slippery due to the rain, but at least we weren't practically mountain climbing up a staircase.
We finally got to the beginning of the end. There were three sets of long metal staircases, which were scary-slippery after all the rain. At the bottom of the stairs is a long wooden/metal bridge over the water to the other side. It was pretty cool. Once we (Katie, Keesler and I) reached the other side, we waited for Dee and Cecilia to catch up at the finish. After we all finished, there were two options for getting to the parking lot: a 20-minute walk, or a zip line and a boat ride. Katie and I opted for the adventure option. Seeing as how I've always wanted to do a zip line, that was a no-brainer decision.
The zip line was awesome. It took us over the water down to the boat launch. It was pretty incredible to be flying over water and look back to see the Great Wall behind me. At the end of that there was a little path that led to the "pleasure boat" that would take us to the parking lot. The bus in the lot took us to a restaurant where we had a lot of, if not well done, food to eat. We ended up back on the bus, and now my plans are for a hot shower and a comfy bed!