The history of the Great Wall is just as old as the country itself, starting back in the 5th century BC as separate city walls that eventually were linked together. Its one of the Great Wonders of the World and a World Heritage Site, a must see.
We organized a driver, Bobby (his email is at the bottom of this page) to take us to the Great Wall. He suggested a 6:20 am pick up to beat the heat and to get out of Beijing before the morning rush hour. With 19+ million people living in Beijing, I am sure the traffic can get pretty hairy.
We saw lots of interesting things as we drove, both new and old.
Traveling with a teenage boy, you see things you normally would not have noticed. Like this “poop clothing store” – Really? There must be something lost in the translation!
Once we were off the main highway and in the “country” as Bobby put it, he pulled over and asked if we wanted to try a mild or spicy Chinese pancake.
Not sure why a pancake would be spicy.
He jumped out and returned a few minutes later with 4 pancakes. They were delicious!
A crepe-like pancake with scallions, cilantro maybe and other delicious spices. Apparently these traditional pancakes and can only be found in the “country” now.
We arrived at the Mutianyu entrance to the Wall, walked around the little tourist stalls and hit the restrooms before heading up.
I’m pretty sure that the kids were more excited about taking the chairlift and toboggan ride than actually seeing the wall.
What incredible views. It was a beautiful day, not too hot or crowded – thank goodness! The sky just seems to always have a haze.
There were some parts with some seriously steep steps to climb.
We had brought water -a must- with us, but there were vendors selling drinks along the way as well. We took a few breaks to just sit and marvel at this amazing barrier built to keep foreigners out, that now drew foreigners in.
I have tried to research how long the wall actually is. Honestly, everything I look at has different lengths, anywhere from 3,000 miles to 13,000 miles. I give up – it’s just exceedingly extensive!
We could not pass the guys trying to make a few Yuans with kung fu photos!
By now the kids had seen enough and just wanted to get on the toboggan ride down to the bottom.
The kids went as fast as they could the whole way, as I held on to my brake; of course I went last as always.
To no ones surprise – at the bottom we were greeted by a solider who also wanted a few Yuans for a photo.
We found our driver and headed down the mountain. On the way, he stopped at a Chinese Copper Workshop .
He insured us that we did not have to buy anything, but thought it would be interesting for us to see how they made these beautiful Chinese cloisonné and it was!
We got a free tour that demonstrated every step that went into making these pieces of art. The lady’s son escorted my daughter.
From the start, with the fine copper wire, the intense colors that they inlaid between the wires, the firing process and finishing.
There was a museum and gift shop at the end with the ornate creations.
I felt bad we did not buy anything, but they were quite expensive and rightfully so with all the work that went into every piece.
Before returning to the hotel, Bobby also took us by the Beijing Olympic Park, built for the 2008 Olympics. We saw the Birds Nest and Water Cube. There was an admission fee to access the Park, but honestly, we had had a full day and were just fine checking it out from afar.
Another great day in China!
I would recommend Bobby, he can be reached by email : firstname.lastname@example.org.
FYI – The restrooms in China can be anything from a whole in the ground or if your lucky a real toilet seat. We got used to looking for the signage on the doors and were super happy to see
We always had toilet paper and wet wipes with us in our bag. Just thought that might come in useful…..