I can't believe it's my last day! We got up early and left for the Great Wall at Jinshanling, which is a 3 hour drive outside of Beijing. When we finally got there and got started on the trial to the actual Wall, there were a number of hawkers of souvenirs, but I have heard there aren't nearly as many as at Badaling, which is why I didn't go there. They would say 'I walk with you. You buy book (or t-shirt) later.' We had to say over and over, 'no book. no t-shirt. no souvenir. no later. non. no. no.' It was a little annoying, but as soon as they realized we really weren't going to buy anything they dropped back.
As we got our first glimpse of the Great Wall I got really excited! Now that I'm home I can post a picture to show you. :)Once we got to the Wall the climb became steep and pretty much never quit. It was steep up and steep down. The guidebook said that it is a 70 degree incline in some places. 90 is vertical! Here are some pictures that try to capture that.
This is trying to show that most of the steps were almost as tall as my knees!
Here are some pictures that try to give an idea of how AMAZING the Wall is, but truly, you have to experience it for yourself.
This section of the wall is also less repaired so we had to be very careful.
The Wall is the most amazing man-made thing I've ever seen. It just goes on and on, as far as you can see.
At all the watchtowers, there would be people selling drinks and snacks. I don't know how in the hell they got them up there because most of them were older and liquid is heavy! This guy even had wine and champagne for sale!
As we were getting towards the stopping point at Simatai, I started walking slower and slower. Not so much because I was tired (although I was), but because I didn't want it to end. I will definitely be back on the Wall someday! I used to think I wanted to hike the entire thing, but now I'm thinking 2 weeks would be enough. :)
We saw the tourist umbrellas and we knew we were close to our stopping point.
As we approached, we saw there was a suspension bridge we had to go over to cross the river - and of course we had to pay a fee, even though there was no other way over the river! I had read there was paragliding from the Wall, but I didn't see it so we settled for zip lining instead. You get strapped into a climbing harness and then zip over the river and get boated down the river to the parking lot. It was really fun, but I was so worried about getting a video I kind of forgot to be in the moment. I wanted to do it again, but I was too exhausted to climb back up to the zip line. Just another reason to go again!
The driver was waiting for us and we drove back to Beijing. But, it was rush hour so it took longer. We all agreed to meet for dinner since it was my last night. I still hadn't made it to any markets and Patrick told me about the food market near my hostel. I showered quickly and headed there. It was a string of stalls where you can get just about anything and every animal on a stick and deep fried. They had slug, sea cucumber, silk worms, dragon fly larvae, squid, scorpions, snakes, seahorses.... I ate the snake first and they had put a bunch of spice on it so I couldn't get a true taste, but it was probably for the best.
I had been talking about eating a scorpion since before I left, so I had to find it. Turns out there was only one guy so he wouldn't bargain the price. It was 15 RMB, which is only about $2, but I love bargaining. :) He told me to the little ones were better so I said ok. I ate the first one quick without trying to taste it and the second more slowly. My first thought was literally, 'it tastes a little bit like chicken'. lol I'm serious! Then it just tasted like fried crunchy stuff. But, I ate it! I can't get the f-ing video to upload and I think it's because I have used up all my free data storage with Google, so I'll have to buy more before I can post it.
I didn't eat the seahorse however because he also wanted too much and I thought it was a waste if I was going to eat just one. Plus they're kind of too cute to eat.
We went and met Ida and Niklas for dinner and we ordered a ton of food again. But the bill was only $14 per person! We thought we ordered dove, but ended up getting something that we called 'a bowl of chicken feet' because there were literally 5 or 6 chicken feet in it. And a whole chicken head, eyeball and all! And a few things that were unmistakeably cock's combs. Weird!
After dinner we all could barely keep our eyes open and I still had to pack for the 5:15am taxi pick-up. Yet, I found myself strolling slowly back to the hostel because I didn't want my vacation to be over. I packed until 1:15 and then got about 3 hours of sleep.