07 December 2011

Nihao! - Part Four

Part three of the re-telling of my China adventure can be found here. Yesterday I was enthralled by the wonder that is Forbidden City, and today is a brand new day for adventure!

Day four: Today we were about to embark on the event I had most been excited about for this entire trip, the legendary Great Wall of China! It is on my Life List, and has always been something that I knew I had to do at least once in my life. A not so exciting aspect of our planned adventure for the day was the fact that we had to wake up before 6am ha, but it really is go hard or go home when you are traveling, there is time for sleep on the plane ride home!

For the second day in a row, "Good morning, Beijing!"
We were to be traveling with a tour group on a coach because, and I didn't know this and I don't think many foreigners do either, the Great Wall is actually about 200km away from Beijing. Now I knew that it wasn't so close to Beijing that you could see it, but I didn't expect it to be that far away. Originally I thought we were going take a taxi to get there ha, so this trip was turning out to be both fun and educational.

Gratefully it wasn't just a non-stop 3 hour drive to the wall as on the way we stopped by some tourist attractions. After an hour of driving we reached our first stop, some wax museum of history, that turned out pretty cool. Sorry guys but photography wasn't allowed inside.

The wax museum, it turned out pretty awesome. A must see for any history enthusiasts.
It basically took us on a history tour of the country, depicting famous historical moments in amazing to scale wax scenes, including their faces and clothing. Along the way there were information boards explaining what the scene stood for and why this moment in time is of important and significance to the country. I wouldn't say it is an absolute must see, but it was included within the tour so it wasn't so bad. Back on the bus again and we were off to stop number two.

Now this was a place to see! We had arrived at Ming's Tomb. Mr Ming was an emperor during the Ming Dynasty and was one of 13 emperors to have built and to be buried within their own grand tomb, much like the Ancient Egyptians and their Valley of Kings (see, educational =P). The landscape was just brilliant, and despite the early hour the air and temperature had a very pleasant crispness to it and thankfully the clouds decided to part somewhat.

The mountains are breathtaking.


We went down into the tomb (which was about 3 stories below the ground) to be crammed in with the other hundred or so tour groups into this high ceiling labyrinth of massive brick stone walls and floors. The place was pure stone, and much like my time in Forbidden City, I stopped to marvel that these stones had been laid hundreds of years ago. Our tour guide was Chinese, thus spoke only Chinese, so I didn't have any idea what she was saying or showing us, but there wasn't really much to see anyway. A few ancient looking chairs, some big square boxes which I think are the real coffins of the emperor... there was also a lot of talk and pointing at the massive doors that separated the rooms so I guess they might of been important also. I really had no idea ha.

Thankfully the beauty of Mother Nature is a universal language, thus never needing translations for foreigners, for as we emerged from underground we were greeted by this absolutely magnificent sight.

After a brief rest we were back on the bus on our way to the next stop... the wall! It didn't take long to arrive and again my ignorance got the better of me for I soon learned many more facts. Like the fact that the only way to get to up to the wall (from this particular part of the wall we had stopped at) was via a cable cart ride, who would of thought! I'm not afraid of heights so I was very excited at the prospect of soaring high above the mountains.

Looks like it goes a long way up!
A 5 minute cart ride later, soaring higher and higher to the mountains peak, and we disembarked from our cart, exited out through the other side of the mountain and alas we were here...

at The Great Wall of China.

Some of the places were really steep, it was quite a workout ha!

As you can see the wall is HUGE... the way it snakes along the mountain peaks further than the eye can see is extraordinary. Again, my previous knowledge of China has forever changed, I knew the wall was long, but I didn't quite grasp its enormity until I was actually standing atop it. Whenever I talk to people about my trip they always ask me "did you walk the length of the Great Wall?". I laugh and just show them the picture above as my reply.

It was around this time I decided to call my dad (surprisingly we had great reception on the wall ha).

"Dad! Hi! Guess where I am?"

He was at work when he answered, just another ordinary day for him. It's funny because often times when you travel you forget that your old life (and the world for that matter) continues on without you.

"Ha, hi mate, where are you?"

"I am currently standing and calling you..." a slight pause for dramatic effect "... from the Great Wall of China!"

"Haha no way, I knew you were going to say that!"

The memory of calling him from across the world like that is one I will always remember. 

They should hold episodes of the 'The Biggest Loser' here.
I can already tell that these pictures do not give the place justice. No where near in fact. I could spend the next page trying to share with you guys the wonder you feel when standing there, looking over the endless mountains, feeling the stone walls underneath your fingers, breathing the chilled air. But even the best poets would struggle to convey the experience, so I won't even try.

This picture below is my favourite, I feel it is the closest I can offer to sharing my experience with you.


Oh yeah, I nearly forgot to mention about my fan club ha! For some reason middle-aged Chinese women love me... entire groups of them! They were giggling behind my back, asking me to help them down steep stairs (where they would lock their arms with mine), I even got cornered into posing for group pictures. It was all for fun, and Isaac assured me (as he can obviously understand what they were saying) that they were in fact laughing with me and not at me haha... so yes, that was... unique.

It is quite funny now that I think about it... to think that I am in some random Chinese families photo albums.

Also during the day Issac and I became friends with a girl on the bus, Aljay was her name. She was ridiculously cool, a Chinese girl who had moved from her small town to study in Beijing for a few months, learn a bit of French, and is going to France in a few months time to study abroad for a year... now that is quite a free spirit! I am really glad to have met her and she definitely made our day much more enjoyable.

Alas the time came to head home, which meant for another cable cart ride (yay!). The journey home was a fun bus ride of jokes between Isaac, Aljay and myself. We said our goodbyes to Aljay once back in Beijing (I missed her already), then proceeded to meet up with Isaac's best friend from his high school, Ling.

Ling was a really nice guy and gave us a great tour of Beijing Olympic Park.

After being awake and on the move since 6am, and it now being 9pm, I was rather exhausted so it was nice to just slowly wander through the city, a whirl of thoughts, memories and emotions running through us. In my mind I was organizing logistics as once again we were to be on the move with a flight early the next morning ready to take us to a city called Chongqing. There is never a moment to rest on this trip it seems.

Tienanmen Square as we were walking back to our hotel.

And that was the day I walked on the Great Wall of China. Life goal, complete.

Part five here. Next stop, the city of Chongqing.


Jez said...

Wow the Great Wall looks amazing! I definitely need to drop by China for a bit when I go travelling, the sites look amazing!

Out of Sync said...

Definitely do so man, it was pretty surreal to say the least, one to remember for a long time to come =D

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