I have never particulalry thought of myself as having a bucket list as such. I certainly am not interested on just ticking things off and trying to do as many things as possible. Having said that walking on The Great Wall Of China is something I have wanted to do as long as I can remember, so I guess you could call it an item on my bucket list.
And now I have done it. I am currently sitting on a bullet train on my way to Shanghai and looking back to two days ago it seems slightly sureal that I finally did it.
We started fairly early in the morning, leaving Beijing at 7am, we took a minibus to the Mutianyu section of wall. We arrived at 9am to a mostly empty car park. We had been told that there were different options to get on and off the wall, and although my friend who had been here previously recomended walking up, the option of getting a chair lift up and tobogan down was very apealing. How fun to say thay you have toboganed down from The Great Wall of China.
So we got the chair lift up and to be honest I was glad for it later. It was such a hot day, I think the weather forcast said it was about 37C and even just walking along the wall was tiring. It also meant we had some amazing views on the way up.
It sounds cheesey but when we reached the top I had to actually take a moment to think about where I was and touch the wall to feel it was real. Of course my husband did the obligitory facebook status update from The Great Wall, what times we live in when that is possible. The views from the wall were as expected; absolutely stunning!
We took our time and walked along the wall at a leasurely pace, while some of the other folk on our tour rushed off to get to the furthest point on the wall. To me it didn’t matter how far we got on the wall, just that we were there and enjoying the view and the atmosphere.
The wall itself was spectacular, snaking over the hills like a giant serpant. I doubt I could describe it any better than the many who have gone before me but the vastness and the solid yet ancient feeling of the wall some how seemed to put the world in perspective. We were on one of the most well preserved sections of the wall, unfortunately even then, not quite all had survived as we found when we were suddenly faced with a glass stair case.
There was a small amount of grafiti in the watch towers, however quite cleverly there was an area set up. We wouldn’t dream of grafiting normally but with such a space we decided to leave our own mark. Let me know if you can spot it.
There was a lot of signage around and while most of it was fairly useful there was the odd ocation of interesting translation. Mind you I think their translation to English would be better than my translation to Manderine.
As we came towards the end of our time on the wall became busier and the the weather got hotter. The only source of shade were the watch towers, which were becoming more crowded. Although we enjoyed our time on the wall emensly we were very glad of the timing and were ready to head down.
Going down from the wall in a tobogan was really fun. It was not quite as fast as I was expecting and I would personally call it more of a luge than a tobogan, as it followed a metal track. It was possible to controle your speed using a lever in the middle that you pushed away from yourself to go faster and brought it towards yourself to slow down, I think perhaps mine had the breaks jammed slightly on as no matter how hard I pushed it I couldn’t go as fast as my husband.
After we reached the bottom I had an overpriced icecream at the Subway which is the only food place in the area. Of all the restaurant chains I would not have expected to find a Subway at the bottom of The Great Wall of China.