Woke up this morning to Syd’s alarm, but if that hadn’t woken us up the military drills right outside our window would have. I’m not really complaining though it was pretty cool. The breakfast buffet we had was amazing. It had Asian dishes, but also had some western food that was actually done right. Got to say it was nice having a bit of a taste of home goes a long way.
We met up with our driver, Mr.Wong, and guide, Barry, in the lobby. We got into the car and headed towards the Great Wall. The drive itself was alright roughly 2 hours. It was pretty cool to see some of the countryside of China. Funny enough a lot of it reminded us of southern California driving through Riverside, Chino or Corona. Seriously if it weren’t for the Chinese signs you wouldn’t know the difference. Upon arriving at the entrance gate you’re able to see parts of the Wall. Might I also add the weather today was amazing! Clear blue skies and fresh clean air!
The hike up to the Wall itself was freaking exhausting! It was stairs after stairs after stairs. We wound our way up the side of the wall and eventually reached it. Standing right at the base of the wall itself was humbling to say the least. Reaching out to touch it was so surreal… Standing on the wall itself looking out into the horizon and watching it wind its way through the mountain side was amazing. People actually built this thing! The part we were on was over 400 years old, I don’t think we have any building that old in all the US. All of it was awe inspiring and I didn’t think I was going to have the reaction I did. Just staring out into the expanse trying to soak it all in. Unfortunately… There was this pushy old lady trying to sell souvenirs. She would not stop hounding us to buy a shirt, a magnet or a book. God dammit woman! Let us enjoy one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments! We ended up buying a few shirts off of her in order to get her to stop bothering us. Of course we didn’t pay full price.
The hike though the Great Wall was exhausting! It was only 6 miles, but we were going up and down STEEP steps some were thigh high. On top of that the some of the steps were barely wide enough to fit the width of a foot. Even when there was even pavement the angle of the path was so steep at times that I was leaning back at a 120 degree angle in order to not fall forward! Every watch tower we made it to gave you a beautiful and unique view of the wall and each one had its own backstory. Luckily for us it wasn’t peak season and there really weren’t that many people on the wall. We ran into the occasional tour groups, but for the most part there was no one out there. It did allow us to appreciate where we were and what we were doing.
My favorite part of the hike was when we sat down and had a snack together. There we were just the four of us sitting on top of the Great Wall of China snacking on Ritz, M&Ms and gummy snacks. We literally had a discussion about how crispy M&Ms were better than the pretzel ones while sitting on top of the wall! Like I said it was surreal. I couldn’t stop thinking about how someone I’m distantly related to had something to do with the wall. Whether or not they were a soldier, a worker, a politician or something else entirely different somewhere down the line a part of me is connected to this thing and here I am walking on it, touching it and looking out upon it. That’ll definitely be something I’ll never forget or take for granted.
After the hike we were supposed to eat at a local restaurant, but we were all so tired and wanted to get back to the hotel as soon as possible. The drive home was uneventful and we made it back to our hotel in one piece. We took R&L to fancy Pizza Hut for dinner and devoured everything! We then retreated back to our rooms for a well-deserved shower and some r&r.
I slept like shit last night since about every 30 minutes I would wake up because there was so much spit in my throat it would close over and I could not breathe. I was so mad because I wanted a good night’s sleep before The Great Wall. Oh, well let’s hope breakfast is better.
Mom and Ralphie got a 2 for 1 at the hotel buffet and it was to die for!! OMG we ate our weight in food. I had salami, brie, bread, French toast, waffles, fruit, and so many things that I can’t even remember. This was definitely the best type of meal to have before our big day. We ate for a while then had about an hour to kill before the guide would be at the hotel to pick us up. We chilled in the rooms and made sure that our bags for packed for the hike. My mom came and got us and it was off we went to The Great Wall.
The guide was kind of weird but it was fine. We had a van that drove us all the way to The Great Wall; I was a little car sick on the way up. After the initial traffic the rest of the drive was pretty easy. We made a stop at a convenience store for some snacks for our hike. When we got out of the car the wall was right there on the side of the street. So crazy!!! We all got back in the car and headed to the start of our walk.
The first hill was such a bitch!!!! The thing that sucks about hiking for me is that my body is fine and I am not sore or tired but my lungs make it feel like I have dump truck sitting on my chest because it gets so tight. I felt like I was slowing everyone down but I was able to catch up and keep a good pace. The view reminded me of San Bernandino mountains or hiking in Wrightwood. Then all of a sudden you would see The Great Wall. When we got to the first watch tower it was incredible. The view, being on the wall, and seeing and touching history was insane. This old lady kept trying to sell shirts and I said ok I will buy one then she said no no no buy later. So I am thinking that she will be at the end of the hike and we will get one there but she keeps bugging us and then not letting us buy anything. All of us were super irritated and finally she let us buy a shirt. We all got corny souvenir shirts that say I hiked The Great Wall. My mom asked which section was the 2,000 year old section and we found out that we were on a different hike then the one we booked. Well….it was irritating that we were not on the hike that we wanted but our guide said that this was the hardest but most beautiful section of the wall to hike and this is what he recommends to people. Even though we were a little disappointed that we would not see the 2,000 year old section we did see the 500 year old section. Either way it was old and really cool to see. We all just took in the sites and it was beautiful. Then it was onward. The hike was amazing and it is crazy how people would be up here even in the winter since some of the steps are so steep and hard to see, I have no idea how people would do this in snow. After a couple hours of hiking we stopped and had our snacks that we picked up earlier. Here we are sitting on The Great Wall of China eating cookies and Ritz. It was a major WTF moment. We weren’t talking; we were just sitting and looking out on thousands of years of history. It was pretty surreal. The rest of the hike was not that bad and then all of a sudden we were done. Barry, our tour guide, as we said bye at the hotel said to Wally and I, I hope you are married the next time we see each other. I do not know how many times we have said that Wally and I are husband and wife and he still thinks we are not married. In the beginning he thought that Wally was the adopted son of mom and ralphie and that we were siblings. It was weird. I do not think he did the best job and anything he told us was stuff we already knew.
Being sick did not stop me even though it made it 100 times harder for me to breathe but this was a once in a lifetime adventure. It was cool to experience it for the first time with mom and ralphie. On the last little walk to the car before we drove home I haggled for moms souvenirs and I got Wally and I a miniature replica of The Great Wall, it is so cute!!! The car ride back home I fell asleep for a little then was awake the rest of the time. We got home about 2 hours later then we were originally scheduled. We were all so hangry and we had to go to the bathroom so bad!!! We decided to go to fancy Pizza Hut for dinner. The temp dropped so much and it was really cold. This fancy Pizza Hut was not as good as the one by us but it did the job of feeding us. We all got DQ Blizzards for dessert and sat and chatted for a little. Mom and Ralphie headed to the hotel and Wally and I wanted to walk around a little more. We headed towards the foreign bookstore and as we walked over and the guard saw us and aggressively closed the door then locked it. So RUDE!!! Since it was now closed we headed back towards the hotel. I took a bath and a shower in the best bathroom ever. Wally and I started to watch “Men, Women, Wild” on Discovery. I LOVED IT!!! Unfortunately I was still feeling like shit and fell asleep but Wally stayed up and watched it. The great thing about this bed is I had my box of tissues and water bottle propped up next to me in bed and they never fell over and Wally never hit them. I cannot wait to get a California King for our own room. Today was a great day and The Great Wall so amazing!
Side note: I got sunburned on my shoulders and face because it was so clear today. I did not even think to put sunscreen on but I know from now on to wear it outside. Man, when we are on the beaches in Thailand I have to be careful and double up always! My skin has been bundled up and has not seen the sun in months.