China Adventures: The Great Wall
It has been 11 years since not only my first visit to the Great Wall, but China has well. I have come back every other or every year to visit China; however, I never really wanted to go along the Great Wall.
Eleven years ago, I visited the Badaling section of the Great Wall with my mom, aunt, and cousin. I don’t remember much, but I do remember it was raining. There are pictures of me in a poncho, standing along the Great Wall. I remember buying an “I Climbed the Great Wall” shirt; I remember buying a small Great Wall statue.
That was eleven years ago. Today, in 2012, I visited the Great Wall once again. This time, at the Mutianyu section.
We boarded our buses and began the journey. Traffic hit, it began to sprinkle. We thought it would be a one hour trip, but that quickly turned into two. We arrived and climbed up a hill. We climbed up another hill. At the top of that, our tour guide told us:
You can take the cable car. It is 80RMB for a round trip or 60RMB for a one way ticket. If you don’t want to take the cable car, you will have to walk up there. It is about twenty minutes walking.
What our tour guide failed to mention is that it wasn’t a walk - it was a stair climb, almost non-stop. In fact, aside from a few flat areas between the stairs (about 1-2 meters long), it was all stair.
We began our ascent. The rain also decided to begin falling. I must admit, the journey up tired me out. It took me a while longer than the other UC students, but I made it up there. It was indeed a rather long time of pure stair climbing. Some steps were a foot tall, making the ascent rather steep at some points.
After climbing, resting, climbing, resting, getting rained on, and some more climbing and resting, I made it to the top. I admit, the entire purpose of the trip was to go on the wall and take pictures. Needless to say, we did. :)
The rain stopped (lessened? I feel like it stopped) as we decided to take our pictures. So many pictures! Jumping picture, black-shirt picture (we wore matching shirts), girl picture, girl jumping picture, panda picture (we also had matching panda backpacks), human pyramid, and any others I may have forgotten. It was fun taking pictures on the wall. :)
As for our descent, we decided to just take the stairs. The rain had stopped by this time and it wasn’t as annoying. Not to mention the cable car was rather far and involved even more climbing. Chris and I decided to see just how many steps this “twenty minute walk” had, so we counted each step of the stairs. Long story short, there were 1089 steps for all those stairs we climbed. Going up we climbed 1089, going down we walked down (what would you use as the opposite of climbed?) 1089 steps. I can honestly say that I have never climbed that many stairs at one instance to my knowledge.
Bus ride back, nap time, and after we had all showered (although it was raining, most of us were covered in sweat…I’d say for most of us, our faces were like 60% sweat and 40% rain), we decided to go get dinner. There was a pizza place that I went to during my first week here. My cousins and cousin in law took me to a place called Tube Station Pizza, rather close to our dorms (one subway station and some walking). They made the largest pizzas in Beijing, so when I suggested it, a group of us seemed down to go.
The atmosphere was so relaxing. Although it was pouring as we walked over and our shoes were drenched and stuff, once we sat down and began eating, everything about the place seemed so…relaxing. We ordered six pizzas and an appetizer. We got two mediums…one half Hawaiian, one half Tube Special; another was one half salmon, one half Philly steak. We also got four smalls, a Mexican, Hawaiian BBQ, Meat Lovers (it wasn’t called that…I forgot the name), and a Tube Special.
The waitress was super friendly and helped us out so much. I wanted a drink, since all I had was half a bottle of water. The drinks were unlimited refills, so I asked the group of we wanted to share one Coke and just keep getting it refilled. Suanne brought up the fact that they may not appreciate that, so I decided to ask the waitress. She not only said it was okay, but asked me how many straws I needed. Oh man. We also got free hot water sent to our table too. In China, you normally get water for free…but it’s hot or boiled water, as opposed to our cold/room temperature free water in the States.
But anyway, the waitress made sure our slides were cut slightly smaller due to the amount of people (there were seven of us there). She refilled our Coke constantly. When the air conditioning was blowing cold air right onto our wet clothes, we asked her to adjust it and she did so. I mean it’s typical of waiters/waitresses to do these things, but it was how she did them that made an impact on us. She was really nice in doing all these things. And by the end, we decided we wanted to tip her, something extremely radical here in China. She helped us sort out our bill because Chinese systems here typically don’t allow splitting of bills easily (I mean, I’ve had trouble splitting bills in the States too so I wasn’t expecting it to be too easy). She broke bills for us, she told us how much to give…oh man, she was a great help!
Tube Station Pizza has a bunch of patron-created graffiti on its walls. It’s not graffiti in the common sense, but rather just being able to scribble and write on the walls. Considering that this location was opened six years ago, finding a good empty spot was hard to do. But we asked our waitress and she brought over a few oil pastels and told us to draw.
We spent 30 minutes on drawing alone. I tagged APO PP chapter, Irvine kids tagged UCI, our Riverside member tagged UCR, our two Berkeley members tagged UC Berkeley. And we all tagged UCEAP, PKU 2012 too. :)
After a pleasant dinner, we came back to our dorms, dried off, and went off to game night. We played tungst and werewolf (mafia-based game). Werewolf was interesting and fun to play! I hope we continue playing it, it was very amusing spectating.
It was a fun Saturday. :)