In China, there is a saying that you haven't seen China until you have seen the Great Wall of China. And today, I have seen China (and the Great Wall). Let me tease you with this one picture before I tell my tale ;)
The day started with another visit to a silk factory. Apparently that helps defray the gas costs of the journey.
We then drove by the business district where we saw the tallest building in Beijing
And these cute towers
As well as the new CCTV building with a very daring architecture, right beside the old one that burned down during a fireworks celebration
We then drove to a restaurant beside a ming vase factory (sorry, forgot to take pictures) and then reached our destination: Mutianyu
That's me at the base of the mountain
Can I spread the moment a bit further before showing you the actual wall? We took a cable car on the way up. Travel in style or don't travel at all!
And then we were on the wall!
Wow. What a feeling. What a beautiful sight. What clean air! I don't know if it's my oxygen starved brain after too many days in dusty Beijing but I felt terrific. I was running up and down the stairs like a maniac, breathing relief and taking in the sights. WOW! Words cannot describe it.
There are watchouses every 100m or so where groups of soldiers would stand guard and warn other outpost with smoke signals if enemies were approaching
These watchouses are pretty small, here's a view from the inside
And here's another view
And me standing around looking happy
The wall itself is beautiful. The area we visited is fairly recent by wall standard, having being erected only 500 or so year ago and renovated about 20-30 years ago if I understood the guide correctly.
Here's an attempt at an artistic shot
We climbed pretty high up, probably because I am the EndorphinBuzzer and will not turn down a reasonable challenge. The guide never went that high up before and Alex didn't really have a choice to follow if he didn't want to look like a coward. I'm really happy we chose to get our own private guide for the day, we may not have had the opportunity to spend so much time there otherwise.
I will never forget how beautiful the wall is, snaking across the wilderness. How could they build such a long and beautiful thing before the invention of machines?
You can see here in the distance that the wall splits or forks into two children. The guide said that Mutianyu is particular for that.
Look at all those steps. All those bricks had to be carried by workers and their mules. Wow.
And the wall just doesn't stop. I think I heard that it is over 5000 km long. Do I sound amazed already? I am!
As if the wall itself wasn't enough to amaze me, there was wonderful sights everywhere I looked! Look at this lonely tree on the mountain top!
Then I looked at the wall again, snaking away from me, wanting me to climb it some more!
I took some breaks while I waited for the rest of the party to catch up to me ;)
And once I reached the highest point accessible to the public, I was rewarded with beautiful views. I still can't believe they built this gigantic structure so remote in the mountains so long ago. I am losing my vocabulary. Sorry.
Unfortunately for me (fortunately for the rest of my party) this was the highest point accessible.
So it made a good picture opportunity for the rest of the wall being restored (too wild to walk on the guide told us)
Here is a really bad picture of me, but I like it because you can see the wall snaking away in the background!
It was snowing on our way down. Cute.
Another shot of the wall snaking away before we part?
On the way home, we visited a tea house. We tasted some yummy tea but unfortunately the price were crazy ever for tourist standards so I didn't get any. Hopefully I can find the same leaves on the street for more reasonable prices.
The saying is true. You haven't seen China until you have seen the great walls. Of all the sites around Beijing, I think Mutianyu was the best for us. The EndorphinBuzzer on his own would have chosen a more adventurous path like Simatai to JingShanLing but with Alex in tow, the cable car accessibility and the low number of tourists of Mutianyu turned out to be just perfect!
I am now fully re-oxygenized with clean mountain air and ready for another 2.5 days of exploring Beijing before coming home where I will face the difficult task of returning to a routine life after 5 weeks on holidays. How will I ever be able to go back to cooking for myself, getting up in the morning and working to earn my keep?