Today was my planned visit to the Great Wall with my tour company. I was up at 7am, and picked up at the hostel lobby by my tour guide, Cynthia, at 7:30. It was a nice morning. I loved the feeling of waking up early in the morning, especially in a different place.
The tour guide took me to her car. We had another tourist who had booked the day with us, and we were on our way to pick him up. He was from Pakistan.
We chatted along the way to our first stop of the day, the Jade Museum. This museum housed a fine display of items and ornaments made out of a greenish mineral called jade, and I found it quite interesting. China is rich in this resource, and I also learnt many qualitative things about the mineral itself and healthy effects on the human body by wearing it, for example as a necklace. Statues and ornaments here were worth a lot of money, but I didn’t consider buying any souvenirs.
After our short visit here, we continued onwards to the Ming Tombs. This place was fairly interesting. The main tomb I visited here was the Chang Tomb, but my digital camera was running low on battery by this point, and I wanted to save it for the Great Wall. So I whipped out my video camera and rolled for a bit. The place was great, I loved the ancient Chinese architecture and culture. I was in a very different world, and I was loving every moment of it.
Soon afterwards, it was time to continue our day tour. Our next stop was the Great Wall. It was a pleasant drive through the new scenery, and the sky was also somewhat clearer here. The mountains on the way were beautiful.
We were dropped off at the Badaling section of the Great Wall, one of the most popular sections, and from here, our tour guide showed us the two separate sections that we could walk along. On one side, it was steeper, but with less people. The other side was less steeper, but with more people. We had two hours to ourselves, and I decided I was going to take both paths. But first of all, the steep section.
It was quite a hard walk, too. It was very steep. It was hard to contemplate how this thing was built. Many of the steps were narrow and knee-high. I was enjoying myself, though. I was happy to be in a part of the world that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time, and to have set foot on a unique piece of ancient work. I’ve been interested in ancient China ever since I was a young child. My day tour companion from Pakistan told me that it was his dream to come here.
I got plenty of pictures taken, and some of myself from other random tourists, one of whom wanted to be included in my photo. We didn’t speak the same language, but hand signals were enough to get by and make ourselves understood, and I was able to say “Thank you!” in Chinese, which is “Xiexie!”
I had a great day. I got myself a Great Wall certificate, which showed that I had climbed it. I went back to the rendezvous at the main entrance, and we were on our way back to Beijing. We stopped by the Olympic Stadium.
We stopped by a restaurant to have some afternoon tea, then later had some tea at a teahouse. I remembered what happened yesterday with the scam; I was more confident that it wasn’t going to happen this time, as I was with a tour. Well I was right. This time, it didn’t cost me $50. It costed nothing. Although, after our tea experience, the lady there insisted that I buy some tea to take with me. I didn’t want to, but she kept on insisting, giving me excuses such as “it’s only ten Yuan!” I wasn’t buying it; I simply kept on saying no. It looks like the Chinese really love trying to persuade you into buying things. I wasn’t having any of it.
The tea was nice, and I’ll give them that much. While continuing back to Beijing, we stopped by the Olympic Stadium to take some pictures before finally being dropped off at my hostel, after a lot of traffic. I enjoyed the city scene.
Back at the hostel, I found out that my roommate was Greek, and I was able to converse with him and practice my own Greek. He says he’s been living in China for three years, trying to find a girl to marry so he could live here. He was having trouble getting Chinese citizenship. But he told me he was living in hostels for the time being. Who knows, if I ever come to Beijing again in future, he might still be here. I was glad to have the opportunity to get my Greek up to scratch again though; after all, Greece is going to be part of my trip.