Saturday, June 28, 2014

Beijing--Great Wall of China--6/14

After getting a long awaited shower and getting ready for bed at the Leo Hostel, two Japanese guys offered to go with me to the Badaling portion of the Great Wall of China by train. Korkie was on his way to study Russian for a year in Kagizistan, and Titsui was headed to Thailand to get further training as a massage therapist. We sealed the travel arrangement for the 14th by taking a shot of Chinese rice whiskey-----memories of Russian vodka on train and Mongolian vodka in our ger on the steppes of Mongolia.
Although we got there in time for the 8 AM train, all tickets had been sold for the next four trains until 1:14 PM and we could not buy them until 11AM. This was going to be a long wait. I told them that I would look for a place to buy my final leg of my China travel from Nanning to Hanoi, an international ticket that the Beijing Train Station did not sell---they only sold domestic tickets. I returned to see there were massive crowds since this was a weekend day, but the guys were in the front of the line so they got my ticket for me.

The ride was a comfortable one with padded seats and good views and it took us just over an hour to arrive at the Great Wall for only 6 RMB--about $1USD vs a 600-1,000 RMB charge by tour groups. It would have been much less crowded if we had gone on this trip during the weekdays, but it was interesting to see the families----mom, dad and 1 child----with all of their food and funny hats for sun protection.

Titsu is jumping for joy on the Great Wall.

No jumps for me though at the beginning of our walk to the highest tower you see behind me.

Part way up the crowds begin to thin out as the climb gets steeper. We had the chance to take a gondola car up to the top and just walk down for 40 RMBs. Now that we walked up and back the entire way, we are thinking that the 40 RMBs would have been a good value. Titsu is on the left and Korkie is on the right.

Here is where it really gets steep!

These are a different sort of bag ladies hauling out the plastic and aluminum drink cans.

We finally made it to the highest watch tower in the Badaling Great Wall area and are giving the ever popular "V" photo salute.

Here is the gondola landing near the top of the Wall which we wished we had taken and would recommend that to anyone who asks.

Another spectacular view from the top with the Great Wall extending beyond our view.

Continuing on down, you can now see the bottom courtyard where the Chinese flag is just a red speck in the center of the picture.

We are now back in the courtyard seen from above with views of the Great Wall climbing up and over the mountains.

As we got to the train station for our ride home, the train was just arriving and the crowds were immense. We ended up sitting on the floor for our ride back to Beijing. Good thing I did not see anyone spitting on this floor like I have so many other places throughout China. Here are the masses of passengers leaving the train at the Beijing Train Station.

Time for a hot shower, good food, and an ice cold beer to end the day. Food and beer in the Leo Hostel restaurant where travelers hide out from the rest of Beijing.

Just a starter of tomatoes and eggs on bread with broccoli beef to follow. Too hungry to photo that course.

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