This day was a pretty big one for me, I decided to do The Great Wall…all by myself. I was super scared about doing this, if Sam and Daria were expecting me to get lost venturing out to the 798 Art District how the hell was I going to fare travelling a few hours out of the city?
Despite being terrified and the fact my feet were covered in blisters (goddamn the heat made my feet swell) I knew I had to do it. I did a fair bit of research into what part of the wall I would go to. I wanted an easy trip there but I didn’t want to be surrounded by tourists. Badaling is the most popular part of the wall, you can get there by train but I’ve heard it’s not a pleasant visit as it’s so crowded and it’s been completely restored so not really an authentic part of the wall. In the end I settled for Mutianyu, it wasn’t too far away, not too crowded and although it’s had some renovations to make the climb easier, it still has original parts of the wall there. Perfect.
I borrowed Sams phone, loaded up on food, packed a load of water and headed to Dongzhimen bus station. I got myself on the 916 Express coach heading to Huairou North Avenue, from there I would need to try and negotiate a price in Mandarin with a taxi driver. Scary stuff.
Finding my coach was easy, the bus station is clearly marked and they’re a lot comfier than the normal buses in Beijing. I had Huairou North Avenue written in characters in my notebook but as I knew it was a long ride I settled down with some tunes on my ipod and tried not to worry. Just as we were setting off, I moved my bag off the seat next to me for a passenger getting on board…this was a wise move. I was thanked in English by the person sat next to me and he asked me where I was heading to, he said he’d let me know when the station approached. Win!
The ride towards Mutianyu is okay, not really scenic but it went quickly, after 45 minutes I was starting to feel like everything was going okay, I’d probably get ripped off for the taxi but the coach ride was going really well, I didn’t even have to pay attention to the characters displayed on the electronic screen thanks to the lovely guy next to me.
Great right? Do you know what’s not great? Coaches terminating early.
Can I just say that for someone who has anxiety, a bus stopping for a reason you can’t understand in an unknown country is really bloody scary. I had no idea where I was, I had no idea how I would get home. I was so lucky to have one of the only English speaking passengers on that coach sat right next to me. He explained that the bus had terminated and that we would have to leave, during all the confusion and questions he didn’t really explain much else, I sort of just followed him and his friend around for a while. Once he had worked out what was going on, he offered to take me to Mutianyu as they were heading there for the day. He introduced himself as Percy and his friend as Donna. Basically what followed was one of my best days in China.
Percy and Donna were awesome. Not only did they get me to Mutianyu safely, they spent the entire day with me and then got me back to Dongzhimen in one piece too. I’m also in a load of their holiday snaps! I honestly can’t explain how kind and amazing these people were, they went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and calm and really made the day something special. I will never forget how lovely they were, I am so lucky and grateful. If they ever come across this, THANK YOU!
I loved visiting The Great Wall. We all decided to get the cable cars up to save time and agreed that we’d walk an hour along the wall and then head back.
It was so hot up there and I made the mistake of not wearing sun screen. I’d not been burnt so far but I guess that was thanks to all the Beijing smog, I was completely exposed to the sun on the wall and I got pink almost immediately.
It was amazing though, the views are incredible
It was a tough walk in the heat though and I was glad that I decided not to visit a more ‘wild’ part of the wall. I drank a ridiculous amount of water but didn’t pee all day because I was just sweating it all out. Gross and too much information but deal with it.
The only annoying thing about visiting was the ridiculous prices for food and water there. Yes I may well be happy to spend £1 on a bottle of water here in the UK but in China? OUTRAGEOUS! A SCANDAL! Bloody rip off, I paid it though because I’d have paid anything for a cold drink on my way back down.
I was sad when the day ended and I had to say goodbye to Percy and Donna. I returned back to my brothers apartment to his shocked face. He couldn’t believe I’d made it back without getting lost…he was even more amazed when I explained that the coach had terminated early.
It was 5pm when I got back, so I thought I’d chill on the sofa until it was time for dinner…I pretty much fell asleep immediately. I was so tired after that day.
When Daria came back from work we headed out for dinner. We were all super hungry so decided to return to Jin Ding Xuan. This was a bloody great idea. I WAS SO HUNGRY. Here’s what I ordered
Deep Fried Sugared Sweet Potato (yes, that’s actual sugar on top)
Rice Cake with Sesame
Oh my God this was all so good. I loved it all and was super sad when I got full up so quickly.
We spent the rest of the evening walking around some night market type thing close by where I bought some cheap tack for last minute gifts. I was gutted that I would be leaving Beijing the next day, it felt like I’d only just got there.