Part II: The Great Wall

In our first weekend here BRS loaded us all up (UNC, NCSU, and UNCW) and took us to see the Great Wall of China.  I was SO EXCITED for this trip – why ELSE would you come to China other than to see the greatest man-made structure in the world?  We got there, along with lots of other tourists, and were given 3 hours to climb the wall before we had to meet back at our bus to make it to lunch reservations.  The stairs up the mountainside TO the wall were the hardest part… I guess I had never thought about HOW you would get to the top of the Great Wall, but I was tiiiiiiired when I finally made it.  It felt wonderful and fulfilling, though, once we made it up there, and we took lots of pictures 🙂

This is supposed to spell C-A-R-O-L-I-N-A













So, I figured this would be my only adventure to the Great Wall.  Last week, however, Dave got to talking about visiting another section of it, one not so touristy and crowded with people.  I hadn’t thought about it until that point, but there were a LOT of people at our first visit, and the vendors crowded in the walkways leading up to the wall and even ON the wall selling things was pretty invasive of the whole experience… so I started asking Dave more questions about what he had in mind.  He said he wanted to visit the Janshanling part of the wall, which is further away from the city and has much more involved hiking.  I liked the idea of HIKING the great wall as opposed to climbing 10000+ stairs to get up to it, and jumped on board with the plan.  There were other people interested in going, but it ended up just being me and Dave.  It was quite an adventure getting out there.  We took the subway to a greyhound-bus-like station where we hopped on an hour and forty five minute bus ride all the way to its last stop.  This next part of our adventure will make my parents very nervous to read 😛

Dave found some contact information on a forum about a man named Snow and sent  asked if we could stay with him for the night.  This is a normal thing, residents of the villages near the wall often open their homes to travelers and have converted rooms into guest rooms.  Snow had lots of great reviews, and it seemed like an okay idea. I trusted Dave’s judgment (and the fact that hes 2 feet taller than most Chinese men here) and felt pretty safe about the idea.  Snow sent a man to pick us up, and when we arrived at the bus station the man met us with a sign that said ‘David,’ he didn’t speak any English, but we got in the car and began our 45 minute ride to Snow’s residence.  The ride through the mountains was a little nerve-racking, and we were both already anxious in anticipation of what we had gotten ourselves into, but we pulled up at a cute little farm at around 8:30pm and were escorted into a little restaurant with 3 tables, one of them surrounded by a large family that were halfway through their meal and laughing over drinks.  We sat down, a woman asked if we’d like some tea (which we took), and a few minutes later a young Chinese man walked in with a big smile on his face, hand extended toward Dave as he said, “Hello! Welcome to my home, I am Snow.” 😀 We were thrilled, and any tension that the hot tea hadn’t already taken care of was immediately lifted from our shoulders.  Snow went on to make us a few plates of food for dinner, show us to our room, and walk us through a map of the wall to help us work out the route we would take the next morning.  Dave and I planned to get up to see the sun rise on the wall, so Snow gladly drove us the 2 km to the entrance so we wouldn’t be SO lost at 4:30 in the morning during our walk.  He provided us with a few bottles of water for our hike, no charge, and we paid for our ride, dinner, and the room for the night, which totaled about $55 to be split between the two of us.  This is a picture of our host from the next day, after our wonderful adventure:

Doesn’t he look great! Here are some pictures of his place:

We were successful in our attempts to make it up to the wall to see the sunrise, but it was foggy for most of the morning soooo we could only appreciate the wall at a close distance for the first few hours.  Regardless, experiencing the wall knowing that we were the first people to step foot on it that day, and to be there in pitch black and watch as the sun revealed everything that we were climbing on was an incredible feeling, and completely worth the lack of sleep and the nerve-racking trip.  What a great way to spend my last weekend in China 🙂

[insert picture here, except I can’t because Chinese internet sucks. USA in 3 days!]